When Michael Ford opened Pinnacles Dive Center in 1974, he was the only dive shop around. Today, the Ford family has more competitors, including online retailers who regularly lure away potential customers.
So the Fords have had to look for new ways to attract customers to their Grant Avenue shop where wetsuits, googles, booties and other gear adorn the walls.
One way is through hosting birthday parties in their 12-foot training pool where children get a basic introduction to diving and learn about water safety. Another is through the company’s Twitter account and Facebook page where customers often post pictures of themselves scuba diving in exotic locales.
“About half the people we certify don’t want to dive locally,” said Christine Ford, Michael’s granddaughter who helps run the business with her father, Joe. “International travel has really boosted people’s desire to get certified.”
For those who can’t afford to fly off to the Caribbean every year, Pinnacles hosts weekend dives in Monterrey, Lake Tahoe and the Channel Islands near Santa Barbara, considered to have some of the best diving in the world. Here students working toward their scuba certification can accrue the needed hours without shelling out big bucks. The Channel Islands outings are typically under $400 and consist of boat rental, lodging, meals and instruction.
They also hold a snorkel and scuba camp during summer for children eight to 14 and host “fun dives” where the only cost is gear rental, creating a community of divers that bond over recent trips and gear purchases.
Local divers brave the frigid waters of the Pacific Ocean (and the sharks) because of the serenity being under water provides, a chance to escape the noise of daily life and explore a new, colorful world unknown to those on land.
"The kelp forests, the sea life, it’s just amazing,” said Christine Ford.
Pinnacles Dive Center is located at 875 Grant Avenue in Novato and has a second location in Santa Rosa. Want to know more? Check them out at http://www.pinnaclesdive.com
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