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May 2002 Vol. 28, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Chain Stores, Catalogues, and the Internet : The Future of Dive Shops?

from the May, 2002 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

While the traditional “ma and pa” dive shop is having its struggles these days, the expansion, price cutting, catalogue, and Internet marketing found in so many other retail industries is moving into the dive business.

Eighteen years after two Michigan men brought their boats to Key Largo to run dive trips, their little business has grown into a retail operation that grossed $21 million in sales last year. Deerfield Beach-based Holiday Diver Inc., now has six Divers Direct Outlet stores from Key Largo to Orlando, as well as catalog and Internet operations. In addition, they recently purchased their biggest catalog and Internet competitor, P e rformance Diver.

The dive shops, which carry about 25,000 different items, have the name Divers Direct Outlet and stock twenty-five percent private label brands in order to convey to shoppers that they are competitively priced. “Right now we’re strictly an equipment business,” says Holiday Diver President Kevin Senecal. However, he expects to offer certifications soon, as they add more stores. Senecal’s father was a cofounder of the business.

In South Florida, the competition is stiff among retail dive shops: Walt DeMartini, a member and past president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Dive Association, said there are twentynine area dive shops and twenty-two dive boats. Diver Christopher Tippins (Sunrise, FL) said Divers Direct is like the Costco of dive shops, with “an incredible inventory. ”

Holiday Diver Inc. brands the Internet and catalog operations Divers Direct, deliberately not using the word outlet. There’s less competition for customers than the dive shops face, so the catalog and Internet site ( can carry a broader range of price categories.

From a report by Barbara Powell, South Florida Sun Sentinel

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