60 Years of The Dive Shop
Ashley Denton   Jul 27, 2021

The Dive Shop was started by Doug and Louise McNeese in Memphis, TN in 1961. Owning a Record Store, Toy Store and a Jewelry business, Doug decided if he was going to work 7 days a week, he might as well do something he loves. The TV program, “Sea Hunt”, inspired Doug to learn to dive and the ocean bug bit him so hard, he closed all three businesses in the fall of 1960 and opened The Dive Shop on January 1, 1961 at 1390 North Hollywood in Memphis, TN. 



Growing up around the business, the whole family was involved but it was Marcia and Doug Jr.  who decided that working for the store would be exciting. Both learned to dive in 1962 at the ages 12 and 10.



By January of 1975, the store had moved to its third location, twice on the same block. That same year, Doug Jr. and his wife, Kathy, started the process of buying the business from his parents. Seven years later on December 31, 1982, they made their last payment on the store. Unfortunately, 11 months later, Doug Sr. passed away.  


On that same block, the store expanded one more time to a 3,100 sq. ft. facility. It was then that Doug and the staff realized they had a formula for duplicating locations. The real success of any dive store is plenty of opportunities to dive and socialize. The Dive Shop started with having an outlet to take people diving locally. For years, they owned a houseboat at Greer’s Ferry Lake and the boat ran every weekend from May to October. This activity alone gave them the opportunity to find so many wonderful instructors, customers and lifelong friends. This is where the Dive Shop Family truly began.



One of those loyal instructors, Mike McCrory, came to Doug in 1986 wanting to open up his own store. His words were, “I’m either going to do it with you or without you.” They didn’t just jump, they put the word out that we were looking. In 1987, they received a phone call from Aqua Lung saying there was an opportunity for a store with a pool in Little Rock, Arkansas and the rest is history. One year later the same thing happened, and The Dive Shop opened its third location with a pool in Marietta, Georgia. 



With all the excitement from opening stores in 1987 and 1988, Doug began thinking about building his dream store in Memphis. The only way to ensure the long-term success of his company was not dependent upon himself alone. Over 4 years, a retail-based training system was written to include clearly defined roles and responsibilities aimed at empowering staff and helping them learn the business quickly. As a result, our staff became our family with shared passions and shared interests in helping our dive, snorkel, and swim community to find adventures in the water!



On January 11, 1993, the dream became a reality and The Dive Shop  opened at 999 S. Yates – the location we know and love today. The good news is, Louise got to see this dream become a reality and could be found around the store answering phones or keeping the staff busy. Customers can still see the a granite plaque on the outside of the building memorializing Doug Sr. and Louise who founded The Dive Shop.



Late in 2002, Doug received a unexpected phone call about another store with a pool in Joplin, Missouri. It wasn’t just a store but a shopping center. In early 2003, the fourth location was added doing business as Calypso Scuba. 



The company would not be where it is today without its leaders. Randy Wright is our Chief Operating Officer and has been a permanent fixture of the store for over 30 years now. Mike McCrory is our Vice President of Operations. He remains the center of Little Rock and the direction of The Dive Shop overall. Rusty Boudoin is our new store manager in Marietta and we’re excited to see where he takes us. Our long-time Director in Joplin is Valerie Earl who started Calypso one year before the merge with The Dive Shop. We learned long ago the real secret of our success is gathering great people around you and empowering them to do their jobs. We just have to provide the system. 


While we cannot list every person on the team, we’d like to thank a special few. Memphis is driven by our Manager, Lisa Collins and Associate, Deborah Baker. Little Rock is the same with Scott McCrory and Terri Bernard at the helm. Joplin runs smoothly with Levi Earl, and Joel Dannelley. Marietta is held up by Nikki Eagen and Sheena Rodriguez. Each store features a whole team of customer service and dive professionals who make diving happen. Behind the scenes is Kathy McNeese, who still does all of the accounting for the stores. 



The Dive Shop is proud of our history and accomplishments over the past 60 years! We know we owe all of our success to our Dive Family. The loyal support of our customers turned friends turned family has lead us every day for 60 years. We owe this all to you!




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