Scuba Diving Becomes a “Gateway” to new Adventures for St. Louis Couple
Cherie St. Amant was a dedicated pharmaceutical sales executive back in 2001. The fast-paced nature of the job combined with daily pressures and competition led her to look for an escape. She choose SCUBA and the decision led to a completely new direction in her life just a few years later.
Cherie, who says she took to the underwater world right away, signed up for a trip to the Florida Keys a few year later and met her future husband Charles, who was working for the dive operator she was diving with. “I have to say that he noticed me first. In fact, most of the people on the dive boat were cheering him on,” she recalls.
After getting to know each other on subsequent dive trips, Charles actually proposed to Cherie underwater. “It was one of the best dives I’ve ever done,” Cherie said. The couple were married last year and the partnership has only gotten stronger from there. Their mutual love of SCUBA diving and desire to do something different led them to open Gateway Scuba in St. Louis.
“We’ve heard the stories before about how it’s not good for scuba enthusiasts to open a dive store. But we’re not only passionate about SCUBA, but we’re also passionate about being good business people,” Cherie explains. “We built Gateway SCUBA not for us, but for our customers.”
Despite mediocre economic times, Gateway SCUBA opened strong earlier this year. Charles and Cherie has built a strong team that is providing mid-west divers a strong way to connect to their love of SCUBA diving. “Charles is the ‘gear guy’. He loves that and that is where he excels. I’m more of the ‘experience’ person. I want to make sure people build their desire to learn to dive and then get out and explore,” Cherie says.
Both Charles and Cherie know they have found the right place. “We have always found sharing our love of diving to be one of the most rewarding experiences we ever have. We can see the excitement in someone’s eyes as their passion for diving grows and with it the desire to increase their knowledge with continuing education,” she recalls.
The Gateway SCUBA philosophy is simple – meet the customer’s needs. Charles notes that all types of divers and adventure seekers come into the store and there is a place for everyone. People are looking to escape (and who can blame them) and want affordable experiences. Gateway SCUBA schedules regular SCUBA trips (yes, including return visits to special places like the Florida Keys) and the trips usually sell very well.
“Charles and I know this is a service business and we create an environment where customers needs always come first. When you do that, people come back AND tell others,” Cherie said.
“No one knows what the future holds. We’re serious about diving and are doing everything we know to do to make Gateway SCUBA thrive,” Cherie explains, adding, “We love owning a dive store, but we realize that at the end of the day, it’s still just a hobby.”
Perhaps. But this “hobby” is responsible for a new direction and opportunity for the entire St. Amant family. For more details about Gateway SCUBA, visit the website at www.GatewaySCUBA.com or call 314-843-0354