Leaving the Professional Dive Life

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Leaving the Professional Dive Life

Post by girldiver » Wed May 11, 2016 11:48 am

As some have heard, and others will now know, we are closing our scuba shop. (Scuba Shoppe). It's been a wild ride.

In 2001, I took my first Open Water class, wanting to be an instructor. I pictured white sand beaches and a little grass shack in the tropics.

Honestly, I sucked as an Open Water student. My hands were frozen (air temp 32 degrees) and I was scared out of my mind the entire time (since I couldn't move my hands). The gear was heavy...water and air was cold. What was I thinking?

From there, I took the next class (only because the shop wouldn't refund my money) and that's when I discovered WHY divers dive. The serene experience of floating weightlessly through pilings at Titlow Beach...I was sold.

It took 2 years of hard work to become an instructor. Thankfully, I wasn't in a zero to hero program...the shop, TLSea Diving, really wanted us to show up for every pool session and every Open Water session to learn as much as we could about being an excellent instructor. Trux (owner of TLSea) wouldn't accept mediocre. You either rocked it...or you failed. I have him to thank for so much about my success in scuba and my ability to be a great instructor. In 2003, I passed the final test with PADI and became an instructor.

I ended up managing TLSea for a year, after receiving my instructor, so I was full time in the industry. Then, life happened and I left the entire industry for a mental break for a couple of years.

When I came back into the industry, it was as an independent PADI instructor. I started by teaching one or two people who I worked with...and then in 2007, left my real job and started teaching full time out of the back of a $200 Ford Escort station wagon. I had four stores who helped out immensely during that time. Walt Amidon (Scuba Set Adventure Center), Amy Rhodes (A to Z Scuba), Aaron Cummings (Tacoma Scuba) and Randy Bierbaum (Lighthouse Tacoma) were my go-to-guys. They helped with rental gear, pool sharing, airfills and so much advice. I ran, and ran, and taught at any Starbucks between Everett and Olympia to meet my students for class.

In 2008, I took a job as the West Coast Regional Manager for Cressi. This was an integral part of the success I've had in the scuba world. Having one of the largest gear manufacturers in the world behind you is a pretty big advantage.

In 2010, I sublet a spot in SoDo for my first "office". I had our 25'x25' office in a shared office area with two robotics engineers, so we had scuba gear and wandering robots. After the lease was up, I found my first retail space in Auburn. It was a very sorry space...but the price was right, so we decorated it with bamboo on the walls and brought in our first real gear for sale.

In 2012, we moved into our current location. We filled a 1000 sq ft with gear for sale and had an additional 600 sq ft for repair, rental gear and office. I rose to the rank of Instructor Trainer with SSI, a title I never thought I wanted, but glad that I finished my career with that.

Now it's 2016...and the world is changing. On a personal level, my parents are now living with us and my mom is needing more help than I can give working away from home. So, this is the reason we made the decision to close the Shoppe. We had hoped to get another 2 years out of the Shoppe and hand it to Katie (who's been with me since 2011) but her health isn't working on our time frame.

However, our decision to close couldn't come at a better time. The world of the retail dive shop is over. On a national level, we're seeing multiple dive shops closing every week. Dive manufacturers are looking at alternative ways to reach dive consumers, as they know that the traditional dive center is not going to be around much longer. Locally, we see the signs that the dive shops are not healthy financially, and I truly don't believe there will be a resurgence for them. It's sad...but it's the ending of an era.

I have made the decision to not only close the dive center, but also hang my instructor hat up. I will be moving into "farming" for my next gig. There's too much risk associated with scuba instruction for too little reward. Too many hours for the money. Too much liability for the amount of reward. Anyone thinking about a career as a scuba instructor, you better think long and hard about the liability. When I owned nothing, it didn't matter...but now I'm not willing to risk everything we've worked for for a part time income.

So, that's the long hard truth.

On a happy note....I have made so many friends in the dive community. Great friends who will be friends for a lifetime...even after I'm not at Redondo every weekend. I have added so many places to my list of things I've seen...and have so many places yet to see. When I got into diving, I had only been to Canada and Mexico. Now, I've seen parts of the world I didn't realize existed.

Diving has opened up a world I didn't know existed. And that, in itself has changed me. And improved me. And will help me in every future endeavor.

So, I bid you farewell as a Northwest Dive Pro....and say hello as just another recreational diver. And a farmer. And a normal person who has Saturdays and Sundays and evenings available to live life. Maybe I'll run into you at a dive site...but probably not Redondo. We live on Case Inlet, near Hood Canal, so I'll probably be getting wet on that side of the pond. And I'll be hiking and biking. And going to weekend festivals. All of the things I haven't done in 9 years.

Thanks for the memories, the stories and the friendship. It's been great!
http://www.scubashoppe.com -
Retail, Training, Travel and a Full Service Center: 130 Main Street, Auburn.

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Re: Leaving the Professional Dive Life

Post by Gdog » Wed May 11, 2016 12:02 pm

Hey, great writeup on your personal history. It's always a sad day to me when a dive shop closes its doors. But your outlook and forward thinking are to be applauded. Wishing you all the best for the future, and hope to run into you one day at some dive site!

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Re: Leaving the Professional Dive Life

Post by verrinne » Wed May 11, 2016 12:54 pm

You are one of my inspirations for diving so I have great respect for you.
I thank you for what you've done for our dive community.
-Josh G

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From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He is bolted to earth. But man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free.-Jacques-Yves Cousteau

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Re: Leaving the Professional Dive Life

Post by spatman » Wed May 11, 2016 3:25 pm

Best of luck to you, Cindy!

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Re: Leaving the Professional Dive Life

Post by Penopolypants » Wed May 11, 2016 7:15 pm

I am sorry to see you leave the business, but I wish you the very best on your next adventure! Your determination and dedication are legendary, I am sure you will do well!
Come to the nerd side, we have pi!

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