Multi-generational family business ‘proof positive’ a small business can thrive

| HighlaTony and Betty Camara, original owners of Highland Barber Shopnd Barber Shop in National City will celebrate an inspiring 50 years in business with an all-day party Saturday, July 16 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. including a ribbon-cutting ceremony at noon along with food and prizes.

Festivities are open to the public and include prizes such as free hair care products, as well as a chance to win a haircut as if priced in 1972. There will be an assortment of food items and a free prize wheel with the opportunity to win various high quality hair care products from the shop’s vendors Suavecito and Evolution California.

One of the original owners’ four sons said:

“We’re the longest running barber shop in National City. In our 50th year we’ve really realized how we’ve become a local landmark and part of our customers’ personal histories growing up in National City. We are proud to be a part of this community and proof positive that a small business can grow, thrive and have real longevity in National City,” Raland Camara said.

Go vintage with Highland Barber ShopHighland Barber Shop logo

The shop is a family business spanning two generations. Antonio “Tony” Camara opened the business to provide a great haircut at a great price, Raland shared. This core value, he added, is still at its heart. The boys grew up helping with the shop, a first job often sweeping the floor. Raland has been running it since both parents have now passed, and he also works as an engineer at Northrop Grumman. He proudly noted how the business helped put all four brothers through college.

“We’ve been providing quality haircuts for multiple generations,” he remarked. “In fact, it’s common to hear customers talk about how they started getting haircuts as kids and now they’re bringing their own kids. We’re so proud to be a memory lane landmark as well as part of the National City community.”

How the SBDC assisted

In early 2020, Raland’s mother, Betty, found the local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) through a newspaper article and reached out for assistance.Camara family photo

“They have been very helpful to me as I took an active role in running the shop with my mom’s health issues during the pandemic,” Raland explained about the free service center network throughout the region. “They were great advisors in helping me navigate many business-related issues. They helped guide me in terms of licenses and product resale, with COVID support processes and strategy. We weren’t successful in getting government funding due to the income tax structure of the shop. The advisors were helpful in identifying this issue and clearing up the confusion.”

Yet Raland and the business have persevered, working with the SBDC off and on – more so lately in planning 50th anniversary celebrations including partnering with the National City Chamber of Commerce as well as getting creative with marketing.

What’s the owner’s advice?

“I would advise reaching out to the SBDC because they just might be able to help you in an area that you just might not expect,” Raland said. “I originally reached out for funding support and ended up getting solid advice in terms of running the business.”

Learn more about this resilient business

Tony Camara, Success Stories

Visit their website at, and find them at 1830 Highland Ave. in National City or call them at 619-773-6233. Plus read more about their SBDC success story.

“Come down and help us celebrate like it’s 1972,” Raland encouraged.

The San Diego & Imperial SBDC Network exists to help small businesses at no charge. Entrepreneurs can reach out to find a business advisor, who works with small business owners one-on-one and for free. Visit to access an advisor or call 619-482-6391 if needed. The SBDC website also has other information available such as no-cost or discounted business resources and tools as well as live and on-demand training.

Explore your SBDCHighland Barber Shop during the day, Success Stories

The San Diego & Imperial SBDC Network hosted by Southwestern College is funded by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (Go-Biz). The SBDC provides free business advising in all realms of how to start, manage and grow a business, and most workshops or training offered are at no cost to small business owners and entrepreneurs to provide economic impact for the region.

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And we hope to see you July 16 on Highland Avenue!