The store in San Diego you were referring to is Sport Chalet which is something like a cross between Sports Authority and REI. The Pt Loma store has a multistory pool in shop and a window into the pool along one of the store walls.Yeah, you're right. Now that I think back on it, it was a VIP that was needed and another shop was able to turn it around by the next day. The point was that almost anyone can learn how to fill a tank, rent gear and sell a mask. If WM wants to do it, too, why not? It is a another nail in the coffin for the mom/pop shops, but it was already hard enough for them to stay in business. It's just another example of superwalmartisizing all our shopping needs.
Although its relatively close, they don't pump Nitrox, the service is poor (ie VIPS, reg repairs etc, dry suit repairs, etc) and for the non-scuba stuff REI is better.
Sport Chalet has several stores in Southern Calif and everyone I have been in has a scuba shop.
My local dive shop does do their own hydros and does hydros for a good number of the other scuba stores in San Diego. Also many of the regulator repairs. They bank Nitrox 32. Just got 1 day turnaround without asking on the replacement of the neck seal on one of my drysuits. Tank VIPS are usually done while you wait. San Diego Divers - highly recommended.
Crazy Fish - Maintaining, Upgrading and Sailing a Crealock 37