Amid COVID-19, boutique offers unique items

HARLINGEN — Featured in a leopard pattern, military green or even a floral design, a new portable door opener is making it easier to avoid touching surfaces amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

At Cita’s Boutique, located both in Harlingen and Brownsville, the new item has been added to help those who do not have time to sanitize their hands as often.

With this “p-shaped” door opener, people can avoid having to touch door handles or having to push buttons when paying.

Cita’s Boutique has been open since 2011 in Harlingen and since 2016 in Brownsville.

The store focuses on women’s fashion and features jewelry, clothing, accessories and items such as painting kits, water bottles and now, door openers.

Owner Kymberly Meade said the vendors she usually shops from started to add items related to COVID-19. Masks from brands such as Brighton and Vera Bradley are sold, along with scented hand sanitizers and now the door opener.

“A lot of other companies make it too, and I saw it and I said, ‘well that’s a good idea’ and they kind of have taken off,” Meade said.

The door opener is a contactless keychain, meaning people can have it dangling from their keys for easy use, which is how Meade had hers. The item has been in the boutique for three weeks now along with the masks and hand sanitizers.

“It was one of those things where I wanted to carry it, and I said, ‘how can we still be a retail business and have cute stuff that helps everyone be safe and still operate and open?’ We want to help our customers with personal protection items,” she said.

Meade uses hers at the gas station, the grocery store and with any door handle she comes across.

The door opener retails for $20.

The keychains can be used for a variety of tasks which require you to touch shared surfaces. They can be used to open doors, push buttons on ATM machines, at debit/credit card check out terminals and elevator buttons. (Maricela Rodriguez/Valley Morning Star)

“I think most people don’t want to touch doors but you have to get gas and food, and tons of customers have been wanting them just so they don’t have to touch them,” Meade said.

Cita’s Boutique is one of the many businesses that had to close during the shelter-in-place order. The store closed for almost a month and opened back up recently.

However, their business kept going. Meade and her husband would take orders online and deliver them on doorsteps. She said over 300 customers had orders delivered personally by her and her husband.

“We would walk away so there wasn’t contact. We would take payment over the phone and we also shipped a lot of stuff. Then we started curbside and now we are open,” she said.

Although the closure did affect them, Meade said being able to sell with the help of social media made the loss less severe.

“We do feel fortunate we could sell something. I think people were happy to buy with us. They kept ordering because they were home and had time,” she said.

At Cita’s Boutique, a mask is required as customers go in and a staff member will spray hand sanitizer on their hands.

The keychains can be used for a variety of tasks which require you to touch shared surfaces. They can be used to open doors, push buttons on ATM machines, at debit/credit card check out terminals and elevator buttons. (Maricela Rodriguez/Valley Morning Star)

Contrary to what other businesses have experienced, Meade said traffic has been good and even better than this time last year.

“I think people are being careful. We required face masks even when it was not mandatory just to take precautions. But yeah, we’ve had more traffic,” she said.

Meade added on the store’s Instagram and Facebook pages a demonstration on how to use the door opener.

“We don’t like anything boring here. If we are going to have something you are going to use we want it to be cute,” she said.

ecavazos@valleystar.com