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July 2013    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 39, No. 7   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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The Disappearing Dive Shop

from the July, 2013 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

After 44 years, the Sea and Sea dive shop in Redondo Beach, CA, is closing. The number of dive stores nationally is declining, but the loss of this store, owned by Barry Friedman and his wife, Nancy, is newsworthy because they bought it from the late Mel Fisher, who operated Mel's Aqua Shop. Fisher sold out to follow a dream, which became years engaged in hardscrabble searches for gold off Florida, eventually culminating in his discovering the wreck of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha and $450 million in booty.

But that's not the story. While Friedman says his sales have been hurt by the downturn in the economy as well as by Internet sales, he has seen fewer people buying scuba equipment because of costly airline baggage fees. That has prompted people taking diving trips to rent their gear rather than buy it, he said, which has also meant fewer repairs for his business. We traveling divers who travel light are having a broader impact than imagined.

So how does a dive store stay in business? Once upon a time, so that they could make money yearround, many local dive shops also sold skiing equipment, and sported names like San Francisco Ski'n Dive. That's the past. Maybe Maui's Scuba Shack has seen the future: Skin 'n Dive. It has taken the first step toward creating a spa for aging male divers by promoting, via press release, its new line of products: FaceLube Eco-Friendly Men's Anti-Aging Skin Care. Says the FaceLube founder, "We're ecstatic to introduce our products to scuba diving enthusiasts. Proper masculine men's skincare isn't about looking pretty or young -- it's about looking good for that extra edge over the competition. FaceLube is excellent for men who work hard and play hard. Recreational divers contend with sun, sand, sea and dirt that can deposit debris on the masculine face, and strip it of vital nutrients and moisture, causing premature aging and stress."

Well, Mel, you gritty old bastard, it has come to this.

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