Rickman’s full-service scuba gear and training business, Dive Georgia, on Main Street, was one of 295 businesses to get its working papers in January and February around the county. That number represented an 18 percent increase compared to the 249 business licenses issued last January and February in Cherokee.
For Pam Carnes, president and CEO of the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce, the uptick seems to be a good sign for the county.
“The increase provides a level of optimism and leads you to believe that, economically, Cherokee County is on the upswing,” Carnes said Friday.
And in general, she said, things seem to be looking up.
“A consistent increase in business license and building permit activity, coupled with a decreased unemployment rate, will make this stable feeling more realistic,” Carnes said.
No matter the economic climate, Rickman said while downtown Woodstock might seem like an unusual spot for a scuba shop, it made sense to him for his business, which opened its doors last week.
“It’s a community I know,” said Rickman, a Hickory Flat community resident, on Thursday. “Of course, I know what’s going on with downtown Woodstock.”
So far, the unassuming location in the growing core of Woodstock seems to be working well for the store, which has 11 employees.
“It’s been wonderful,” Rickman said. “We’ve had a lot of people coming in glad we were here. Divers here didn’t have a shop … and were having to drive far off to find a place.”
Rickman’s store offers all manner of scuba-diving gear — wetsuits, flippers, goggles, masks and on and on — new or experienced divers could need. The store also offers training for divers.
Dive Georgia’s Woodstock location is Rickman’s second plunge into the diving industry in north Georgia. Last summer, his company started giving lessons at a quarry outside Cartersville.
The quarry location was a success, which now makes his Woodstock location the only metro Atlanta dive shop with its own quarry where divers can get certified, Rickman said.
The majority of Dive Georgia’s customers pick up their gear and head off to diving hot spots, such as the Florida Keys or the Caribbean, because most diving resorts don’t offer the equipment, Rickman said.
For most people, Rickman said, scuba diving is a “bucket list” item, but the store is equipped to service or train divers of any level of seriousness.
Dive Georgia is also organizing scuba diving trips to hot spots around the world, Rickman said.