Supporting my local dive shop(s) is frustrating

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ssssnake529

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New to scuba.

Trying to get my own gear for myself and my wife.

With all of the gear, I'm spending around $10k.

I'd like to purchase at my local dive shops. I've got 4 of them in my general vicinity.

The problem is that they don't have much inventory on hand, and some only carry stuff from a single manufacturer. None of them seem to stock a wide range of gear and their inventory is limited, even for basic items like regulators and bcds. I understand that they are small operations, and they can't afford to keep a bunch of capital tied up in inventory, but being able to try on and/or handle gear before you buy is one of the benefits of buying from a local dive shop.

Trying to order things that they don't have in stock is not very user friendly. The answer to the question of "when can I get it" is typically something along the lines of "I'm expecting a shipment from that manufacturer some time in the next couple of weeks and there might be one of those in that shipment." Either that or, "I can order it for you and you can get it in the next couple of weeks" or "that's on backorder, I don't know when it will be available."

If you are going to run a store and only carry limited inventory, it seems like you need to have an arrangement with your manufacturer/distributor that gets you the gear the customer wants in a couple of days. I'm trying to get my gear in hand before my open water class. Waiting an indefinite amount of time is not a great option for me.

The few things I could find at my local dive shops (either in stock or with a firm delivery date,) I've purchased at the local dive shops. The rest, I've bought online, often at lower prices and generally with free, 2 day delivery.

If this is the typical local dive shop retail model, then it's broken. They better be able to make their money from classes and trips and the like because online retail is going to push their storefront business to extinction.
 

wetb4igetinthewater

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Why do you want to get gear before you get certified? There are many options that are better for some diving, not so great for others. I'd advise waiting for your purchases.
 
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ssssnake529

ssssnake529

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Why do you want to get gear before you get certified? There are many options that are better for some diving, not so great for others. I'd advise waiting for your purchases.

I want to train with the gear that I will use going forward, as opposed to whatever gear the shop has in their rental pile.
 

wetb4igetinthewater

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I want to train with the gear that I will use going forward, as opposed to whatever gear the shop has in their rental pile.
Okay, so you know that you really want to commit to diving.

Where do you plan to dive? What kind of diving? As that makes a big influence on what gear you buy. However, if you decide to go with a backplate and wing configuration, your instructor probably won't be familiar with it. If you choose for a jacket style BCD, then no problem.
 

Divin'Papaw

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I want to train with the gear that I will use going forward, as opposed to whatever gear the shop has in their rental pile.

What happens if you hate it? What happens if she hates it? What happens if you have issues you're not currently aware of with ears, sinuses, etc, etc?

I'm not sure any of us experienced divers would ever recommend that someone buy $10K worth of gear before completing certification. I know I wouldn't.

Good luck on your training! I hope you both love it. There is time later to buy the gear. I would honestly get certified, rent for a bit and THEN buy once you know absolutely what gear you want.
 

rick00001967

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welcome to the world of scuba. you are correct in your observations.

the shops that have adapted to the new way of doing business have been successful. the older shops that refused to wake up and realize what was happening 10 or more years ago were left behind.

now you know why so many divers buy from bigger, better stocked, online retailers.

i work for a local shop, and so we hope that our customers will spend their dollars with us. but it is tough to sell product you don't have. if we have to tell people they need to wait, then why wouldn't they just buy elsewhere for less money when they can get it faster ?

the only thing a small local shop can do is try to make up for this by providing superior service. some shop are able to do this. some aren't. it is a tough business to be in. i am glad i only do it part time in summers.
 

Eric Sedletzky

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Well this seems to be the modern trend and one which will eventually topple the local dive shops I’m afraid.
They have been taking increasing pressure from online competition and the way they are set up as retail outlets they have a tough time trying to deeply discount products to match online pricing. Diving is a small niche sport so it’s not like a steady stream of people are coming in buying all sorts of stuff.
There might be a sale once in a while, some days not one, and other days they might sell a couple full sets of gear.
They have rent, power, water, insurance, wages, taxes, etc. to pay.
They can’t invest thousands or tens of thousands stocking every option in gear choices when most of the stuff will probably not sell anyway.
They are in a tough spot these days.
The reason many only carry one brand of gear is because they get aggregate discounts when they buy more stuff from that one manufacturer. So it only makes sense that they do that to try and get some sort of a competitive edge even though you might not see it on the price tag, they are getting the break on their end. In fact they most likely can not discount the gear further than MSRP plus maybe 10% because of a contract they sign with the manufacturer in order to become an authorized dealer and to be able to do business with them.
If they are picking one good brand with a complete full line of gear what’s the difference? it all works.
If they are nice and helpful, know their stuff, and obviously doing what they can for you to keep your business, then get your stuff there.
If you want to do business with a virtual source and get your stuff serviced through a virtual source then by all means, go with the new standard of doing everything online. But then please don’t complain that dive shops are starting to suck, because you just became part of the problem.
 

emoreira

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I wouldn't recommend to buy 2 set of full gear before being certified. I do recommend to buy your mask, snorkel and fins. But first try some, at least the ones that your LDS will give you for the pool sessions.
After being certified rent some gear just to see what's in the market, what's good for you, what's not good.
Dive, learn, read, ask questions, and then make an informed decision. Some operators have well maintained gear, some others not.
Ask where you can service your regulator, which brands are supported, etc. Try to go simple, do not allow LDSs to sell you gear that cannot be sold to informed divers.
 

lowflyer

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I agree with others here. The old phrase, "You don't know what you don't know" applies to a newbie buying dive gear. And $10K worth at that. Stop and rent. You have a lot to learn about diving and dive gear.
 
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