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Meet Marina Barcenas of Antonio’s Barber Supply in Long Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marina Barcenas.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Before getting into the barber supply industry, I did not think that this would be the path I would be taking. It was fate that brought me to own my own barber supply. It started when my youngest sister was an employee of Arnold’s Barber Supply, a family owned company. Arnold’s Barber Shop was a family business had operated for more than 50 years, where barbers and cosmetologists could buy products they needed and get their clippers serviced. I would visit my sister at her job occasionally, and I got to know the owners well. They then asked me to help them out at their store when one of the owners fell ill and could not go back to work. I learned how to fix clippers and other machines, and helped out customers during my time at Arnold’s.

Unfortunately, the owner passed away about four months after I started working for him, leaving behind his wife Diane to carry on the Arnold’s Barber Supply legacy.

Diane continued to run Arnold’s for four years before she felt it was the time that she retire. She tried to sell the business but did not receive any good offers for it, so she was going to have to close the shop altogether. While she considered shutting down Arnold’s, she also thought about the loyal customers Arnold’s acquired throughout the years, and was worried they would not be able to find the same products and services Arnold’s offered elsewhere. She was also worried about the future of her employees, and asked us to stay with her until we sold every piece of inventory. Even though Arnold’s was closing, customers kept asking us to restock products, and they were unhappy when we told them that their go-to store would be shutting down. Arnold’s was coming to an end, but not before my sister and I were able to do something about it thanks to the help of Diane.

One day during one of our final lunches with our boss, an idea came up that would change my life. My sister and I proposed that we open our own shop where we solely offered repairs on clippers and latherizers. The owner thought it was a great idea, but we took into consideration the demands of the customers who needed their products. She offered to sell us her remaining inventory, and we took the offer since we wanted Arnold’s loyal customers to be happy. We bought the inventory and the furniture, and paid her monthly for it over time. We opened our shop directly across the street from where Arnold’s was in 2005. She wanted us to keep the Arnold’s name, but her family thought it would be best that we change the name in order to let us start a new cycle. We named our shop Antonio’s Barber Supply, and now 12 years later, we are still open and serving customers’ needs.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Overall it has been a smooth road, but of course a business has its ups and downs. The only struggle came during the 2008 recession, but we managed to overcome it with flying colors.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Antonio’s Barber Supply – what should we know?
The company has been in business for over 70 years, the last 12 being under the Barcenas Family. We supply barbers from all over California, and provide repairs and sharpening services for hair cutting equipment. We carry hard-to-find items, and products needed to have a classic barber shop experience.

Since I learned how to fix clippers, it has been my specialty. I enjoyed working with my hands so learning how to do repairs was fairly easy. Of course, I keep learning along the way, and I am continually perfecting my craft.

I am most proud of the teamwork that goes into keeping my business running. My sister and I work well together and have managed to make our business successful throughout these 12 years.

What sets me apart is that I am a woman in a male dominated industry. Repairs on clippers were mainly done by men and I was fortunate enough to learn how to do them.

Customers are sometimes surprised to see that it is a woman who fixes their equipment, but thanks to their positive feedback, I continue to do so.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Diane Arnold, for helping my sister and I get our business started, and the rest of the Arnold family for their continued support.

Sofia Barcenas, my sister, who I operate my business with and who has been influential in keeping our business successful.

Arnold’s loyal customers who continued to support the business after the previous owners left.

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