NORTH LIBERTY — No matter that it may be more than a thousand miles from the nearest ocean. North Liberty just recently became home to a full-service dive shop.
DiVentures Scuba and Swim Centers opened its third store on Jan. 20. The company wasn’t dissuaded by the lack of a coastline. Its first two stores — in Omaha, Neb., and Springfield, Mo. — are just as landlocked.
“DiVentures is all about trying to find underserved markets,” said JoAnn Haack, DiVentures North Liberty store manager and dive instructor. “There are a lot more divers around here than you may think.”
Haack herself is a good example of a Midwestern scuba aficionado.
“Diving has been a passion of mine for years,” she said. “I love the serenity and beauty of the underwater world. I love the stories and talking about the places I’ve seen.”
Haack became a dive professional in 2008 and, while working full-time as an engineer taught diving on the side. When she heard DiVentures wanted to add an Eastern Iowa location, she approached the company about running the new store.
She left her engineering job in December to open DiVentures North Liberty.
The new store includes a 1,000-square-foot retail space offering scuba and snorkel gear, from wet suits to regulator sets and underwater photography equipment. The store also rents and services scuba equipment.
“Serious divers understand the importance of gear,” she said. “It’s life support equipment, so they like to have their own and know how it’s been maintained. And it starts to pay for itself after about three dive trips.”
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In addition to retail and rentals, DiVentures offers scuba training for divers of all levels, from a “Try Scuba” class for beginners to advanced training for dive professionals.
The store has classroom space for its diver certification programs and uses local aquatic centers for the pool work components of the training. Students may complete their open water certification dives locally during the summer months or receive referrals to other dive centers to complete their certification dives while on vacation.
DiVentures also operates as a travel center for divers. The company offers several group dive trips throughout the year to locations around the world — upcoming trips include Cozumel, the Galapagos Islands and Indonesia.
“We also do private travel,” Haack noted. “We arrange everything from the flight and hotel to the diving.”
Haack said the company plans to open a full scuba and swim center with a pool in the Corridor within the next two years.
AT A GLANCE
l Store manager: JoAnn Haack
l Business: DiVentures North Liberty
l Address: 555 Highway 965 S, Suite C, North Liberty
l Telephone: (319) 665-2741
l Website: www.diventures.com
l Facebook: www.facebook.com/DiVenturesNorthLiberty
l If you know a business in operation for less than a year in the Corridor that would make for good “Ground Floor” reading, send the information to firstname.lastname@example.org