I wanted to respond to Greg’s blog but was limited by character numbers. A lot of the ideas he presented are good ones but the thing is that as the mom and pops get lean (and we are one) so do the distributors, and the advertising agencies, and most affiliated services. They aren’t really keen on starving or layoffs either. I have worked the last month at our shop without wages and it doens’t look to get any better. The distributors will give us better prices if we buy "X" amount of product but what are we going to do with 40 wetsuits when customers are buying online and I have only sold 3 in the last three months? If I leave and get another job then the shop loses an instructor and any new employment I get may not allow time for scuba instruction and counter hours to help customers. Then the door is closed and that means no one can buy anything or get services or schedule a class. I could quit a new job when we get back up but what I am I saying to anyone who hires me? If we all quit or are laid off, and we can’t come back or teach regularly the shop loses more money or has to train new instructors which could take up to a year. If most of you read my response to Greg’s previous blog - you know how I feel about "grey market deals". These are where some dive shop is going out of business and sells their remaining inventory at a loss to liquidate it, or buys too much and then sells the over purchase at a loss to pay the 30 day due, or where someone sets up a phony shop and buys thousands of dollars of equipment at bulk prices and then sells it to internet outlets for a small profit and the internet sales outlets can undercut the legitimate shops and still turn a profit. They are great one time deals but it is killing the dive shops who have to eat warranty work labor costs while working for the customer for free. NO sale monies on the equipment, no services monies but doing the work anyway. The internet poeple are laughing all the way to the bank and don’t need to worry because someone will buy from them tomorrow too. When all the shops are gone and with them the ability to get fills and service what will divers do then? I know how our shop works and the mark up is not what most of you believe it is. Some of the stuff you can buy on the net is sold at less than our cost. We as a shop have to pay the overhead, wages to staff, insurances for instructors and workmans’ comp, the invoices for equipment that is sold, advertising, instructional materials, and the stuff that we do give away. We are not all rolling in the money I assure you. The best thing you can do is support the mom and pop shops out there. If you are a regular customer or student you can get discounts for equipment. We do that for our regulars and students. You can always ask for a better price. Sometimes you will get it. And you also get the satisfaction of knowing that shop will be there to work on the equipement when needed, fill tanks, and hold classes when requested. Find that on the internet. We have really gotten into a mind set of "I want it now, I want it cheap, and I want it my way." We have gotten away from where services rendered were part of being in business and where good service kept customers and if you were poor in customer service you lost customers. Now we are to a point where service be damned - I WANT IT FREE. I have had people I have never seen before come into the shop and ask for a price reduction and point out to me that can get it on the net for less. I have had them come in to the shop ask for help on a piece of equipment or wetsuit, try it on, get information and then tell me thanks I am buying this on the net and wanted to make sure I got the right one. Having vented about all that I am sure that some shops are charging divers ridiculous prices and getting away with it but I am really sure they are fewer than you think. A good shop that has been around a while will give you straight answers and do what they can to satisfy you the customer because your coming back is important to their longterm survival. It is the standard by which business should be done. Support your local dive shop and you won’t find yourself looking one in the near future. Get classes you need, buy what you need and get the annual services. Just stop in to say hello, make yourself known to the staff. Be a regular. The discounts will come. Take advantage of trips the shop offers. Most places are like ours - divers working for divers helping divers. One last thought and really think about this. When Walmart went into a lot of areas they put a great many small retailers out of business with ridiculously low prices and when all the small retailers went bust - guess what happened to the pricing at those Walmarts? It went up and they were the only place left to get anything. It can happen in the dive industry - just think about it.