Scuba store aims to make a splash with snorkelers

A store dedicated to golf or cycling makes sense in Red Deer. But a diving shop?

A store dedicated to golf or cycling makes sense in Red Deer.

But a diving shop?

Denise Boniface is convinced a market for such a business exists in Central Alberta, and she’s leased space in Bower Place Shopping Centre to prove it.

The operator of Aqua-Nuts Diving plans to open the doors to her Red Deer store on Nov. 1. There, visitors will find a broad range of scuba and snorkeling equipment, as well as information about training and classes.

“My main focus is going to be snorkeling equipment,” said Boniface, explaining that this can be used for snorkeling or scuba diving.

She’ll also carry advanced equipment, like dive computers and regulators for technical divers.

“I’m a fully functional scuba shop.”

A Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) master scuba diver trainer, Boniface teaches courses ranging from basic to advanced.

“All the way to ice-diving,” she said.

Boniface instructs internationally, but has also been active in Alberta — guiding school classes and other groups from Edson to Lethbridge.

“I pretty much go wherever they want me.”

She rejects the notion that land-locked Alberta lacks diving opportunities.

“We have some of the most beautiful lakes around us,” she said, listing Banff and Jasper as world-class diving sites.

Closer to home, Struble Lake near Rocky Mountain House and Twin Lakes by Winfield provide excellent settings. There’s also a divers’ park at Sylvan Lake.

“There’s even an Alberta Underwater Council,” said Boniface.

Divers regularly conduct cleanups of Alberta lakes, with Sylvan Lake their focus several weeks ago.

“We took two tons of garbage out of it.”

There are also many people who take to the water while vacationing in southern destinations. Aqua-Nuts can provide them with training and set them up with equipment that’s sanitary and suitable for their needs, said Boniface.

She described how equipment obtained from a department store often fails due to poor quality or fit.

“People get frustrated with snorkeling or scuba because they’re always getting water up their nose.

“With a proper-fitting mask, it’s fun.”

A long-time Rocky resident, Boniface got hooked on diving and earned her certification about seven years ago.

“As a kid growing up, I always watched Jacques Cousteau and fell in love with Flipper and all that sort of stuff.”

She’s now logged more than 600 dives, and has made the sport her career.

“I have a shop in my basement and I have a scuba trailer — that’s my office.”

Boniface, who plans to move to Red Deer, is confident her new store will fill a niche.

“The nearest scuba shop is Airdrie.”

Additional information about Aqua-Nuts Diving can be found online at aqua-nutsdiving.ca.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

— copyright Red Deer Advocate