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The Scuba Tank expands, moves to new location

Posted: Thursday, December 12, 2002

The Scuba Tank, a 13-year Juneau business, has moved from La Perouse Avenue to larger quarters at 2219 Dunn St., across from Frontier Suites on Glacier Highway.

Carleen Mitchell, who took over ownership of the shop when her mother- and father-in-law, Joel and Marge Mitchell, retired in 2000, said the move to the more visible and larger location will boost business and provide a place for local scuba divers to meet and exchange ideas.

"We're extremely proud of having to move the store to a much better place," Mitchell said. "It's painted brightly, it's warm, and it's an environment where people can come in and sit down and talk to us about diving."

The new location is in a building owned by R H Development. The Scuba Tank, which has a five-year lease, moved in on Nov. 11. Friends, family and even customers helped with the move.

"They (the customers) act like it's partly theirs," Mitchell said. "Letting us know how much they like the new place is the best thing our customers have done for us."

Carleen and her husband, Dave, designed the space to fit the business' needs. The new location has a classroom, a service area, a showroom and storage.

Dave Mitchell is certified through the Professional Association of Dive Instructors to teach dive classes at the store. Carleen is working to get her assistant dive instructor certification, and is trained in servicing scuba equipment. Classes are offered from the beginning level to the dive master level. The next class will be held in January.

The store is busiest in the winter, when glacier silt clouding the water is at a minimum and the king crab season is in full swing, Carleen Mitchell said.

"Easily 90 percent of the divers walking through my store are going out to get king crabs, scallops or Dungeness crabs," she said. "We have a lot of people I don't see April through October. They hunt all autumn and fish all summer and king crab dive through the winter."

In addition to scuba gear and accessories, the store sells fleece long underwear, underwater cameras, kayaking equipment and paintball supplies.

The Scuba Tank sells sit-on-top kayaks made by Ocean Kayak, Mitchell said. Sit-on-top kayaks, less expensive than traditional kayaks, allow rowers to kayak while sitting on top of the boat rather than inside it. They are suitable for novice kayakers and divers without boats who want to dive away from the shore.

"A lot of divers are skeptical, but it's a great opportunity for a diver to get away from the shore," Mitchell said.

The store rents five kayaks, and will order kayaks for purchase.

This summer the Mitchells incorporated paintball guns, called markers, and other paintball supplies such as face masks, gloves and paint balls.

"It started with people coming to us asking to fill air tanks," Mitchell said. "That's the only connection to scuba - compressed air."

Markers shoot paint pellets with the release of compressed air from tanks.

The store does not sell markers to people under age 18 without parental permission, and sells only nontoxic, biodegradable paint.

Christine Schmid can be reached at cschmid@juneauempire.com.



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