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Scuba News
PRESS RELEASE ARCHIVES FROM SEND2PRESS® NEWSWIRE

NOTICE: THIS IS ARCHIVAL CONTENT AND LIKELY OUT OF DATE.

Article Editor: Carly Zander


From Bricks to Clicks: How Scuba.Com Defied the Odds and Changed From a Retail Chain to an Online Powerhouse

Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. - June 15, 2004 /Send2Press Newswire/ -- Business schools rebuke the practice. Countless books caution against this foolhardiness. And thousands of former dot-com executives know first-hand that it just won't work. So what prompted James and Melinda Herndon, the owners of a successful chain of scuba diving shops, to close their stores and evolve their business to an online operation called Scuba.com?

After all, these were both smart, college-educated professionals who knew how to run a business, and had witnessed the dot-com meltdown that affected so many of their friends and neighbors. Was their decision-making process impaired due to staying underwater for too long?

To understand their motivation, we need to roll the clock back to 1995. The Herndon's were the married team that owned and managed virtually every aspect of the Discount Diver's Centers -- a chain of 8 retail stores located throughout California and Nevada. And while business was good, the hours were long and there was little time for life outside of work -- and certainly no time to start a family.

They took a long and hard look at the challenges and opportunities of moving their business from a retail operation, to strictly an online business. After weighing the pros and cons, projecting the potential profits from a web-based business, and comparing the significant labor intensity of running the retail stores to the seemingly more manageable time demands of an online operation, they decided to take the leap and move from the world of bricks to the world of clicks.

Of course, the big unknown was whether or not it would work. The experts all cautioned them against the move -- and once they pulled the plug on the stores, there would be no turning back.

They began working on their idea, modifying and refining the interfaces, features and graphics, until late into the night. At this point in time, it seemed to the Herndons that the new online business would consume just as much of their time as did the retail operation.

Complicating matters was Melinda's dream of having an online repository of information that would function as a help desk ­ holding the answer to virtually any customer question that could arise. Only long hours and extensive programming sessions would accomplish this goal.

Eventually their tenacity paid off and the website was officially launched in 1996. It was a smash hit from the very beginning. A virtual scuba instructor named Kotie functions as an online help desk, and has over 250,000 answers to virtually any scuba-related inquiry. Over 6,300 in-stock items provide a depth and selection that is unbeatable. And with live help from diving instructors who possess in-depth knowledge about the sport, www.scuba.com has rapidly become a favorite site for tens of thousands of people looking for the right gear, with the right information, at the right price.

Today, scuba.com has over 40,000 unique visitors each day, making it one of the highest rated sites in the industry. Revenues now far exceed those of the former retail operation, and continue to grow each year.

Yet despite this tremendous growth, the company founders have found a way to enjoy a personal life, and now take pleasure in seeing the colors and splendor of the undersea world through the eyes of their child. Yes, their new business model paid off in many ways.

For more information on scuba.com, please visit the website at: http://www.scuba.com



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