In 1956, when Jim and Saundra Copeland took up a new sport — Scuba diving — they never imagined it would turn into the successful fourth-generation business it has become today. For the past 66 years, from that tiny shop at Six Points to their current location, people have trusted the Copelands for equipment, diving certifications and a unique scuba experience that only comes from diving with the best.
In fact, the Copelands have offered a plethora of unique experiences catered to scuba diving that have benefited the Coastal Bend and helped bring the community together for decades. How have they done this? By hosting community events such as spearfishing tournaments, divers’ derbies and offshore diving at oil platforms.
They started out by taking people up to the lakes by bus, but eventually moved on to offshore diving by boat. The Adventurer, their 85-foot dive boat, helped them take thousands of customers offshore over the years. As Jim said, “We developed these trips and activities … like sponsoring spearfishing … and it gave our customers a way to use their equipment after we taught them how to dive. That is the real key to our success.”
The Copelands have helped certify thousands of people of all ages, starting with their first scuba training program called the “Coastal School of Scuba Diving.” Later, when the YMCA became the first national organization certifying scuba diving training, Jim offered those certifications. Nationally speaking, a junior diver can be as young as 8, though the Copelands prefer their divers to be a bit older. Saundra explained that junior divers are “very limited on what they can do, and how deep they can go.”
Over the years, Copeland’s has evolved as certifications have evolved, and it was even Corpus’ first surf shop. However, when Hurricane Celia hit, Copeland boards were no longer manufactured, so count yourself lucky if you still have one.
One of the biggest and most momentous evolutions the shop has taken since its establishment is its venture into the winter sports business. In 1970, as the Copelands’ daughter, Denise, explained, “They needed a second sport to support (them) through the winter, so Jim and Saundra went snow skiing.” For the second time, they found a sport they loved. And while snow skiing is very much a vacation sport for people in the Coastal Bend, in true Copeland fashion, Jim and Saundra found a way to immerse the community in this second passion.
In the good old days, the Copelands would introduce the sport to people by renting travel buses and taking groups on ski trips. While those trips are a thing of the past, the training deck meant to teach people how to use the ski equipment, Mount Padre, is still fondly remembered.
When asked if he ever imagined that he would become a pioneer for scuba diving enthusiasts, Jim said “never” — because, regarding the success of his business, he said, “It all happened one step at a time.”
Copelandsinc.com | 4041 S Padre Island Dr. | (361) 854-1135