Downtown Brownsville businesses prepare for Mexican shoppers

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BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Businesses along the U.S. border have suffered financially because of restrictions put in place due to the pandemic.

The restrictions did not allow non-essential travel from Mexico and many businesses located in downtown Brownsville were severely impacted.

However, the restrictions are set to be lifted Monday, Nov. 8, for fully-vaccinated non-essential travelers, bringing hope to some business owners.

“We carry a lot of the artificial supplies for the funeral homes and right now all of those customers from across have not been able to purchase those items which have affected us tremendously,” said the owner of Griselda’s Floral Accessories & Party Supplies, Griselda Zoleta.

Zoleta said her location on Levee Street is prime for shoppers coming across the border looking for items from funeral to party supplies.

She said customers would continuously reach out to her to ask for products and for ways to get the items across the U.S. border, but it was difficult to do.

She said during the pandemic there were a lot of funerals and those were the items needed the most, but her customers from Mexico could not cross over to purchase them.

Zoleta said with border restrictions being lifted soon, she has a plan and has prepared for her customers.

“We’ve been gradually stocking because the vendors have told us, there’s going to be a point where you’re not going to be able to get these supplies, so you better stock up and that’s what we’ve been trying to do,” she said.

She said customers have already been reaching out to her advising they will be stopping by for supplies on Nov. 8.

One street over on Elizabeth Street, El Toro Sporting Goods, Inc. has been in business for 35 years.

Store owner Sara Cermeño said the travel restrictions made an impact of almost 80% fewer sales at one point during the pandemic.

“All of us here in downtown were affected, but we have hope that everything will change,” said Cermeño.

She said she has local customers, but also many customers from Matamoros, Monterrey, and Victoria.

Her customers would travel to purchase items ranging from sporting goods to perfumes and colognes.

Hopeful for more business, she is prepared to welcome old and new customers.

“We’re now ready with more merchandise and with more employees, and I want my customers to feel comfortable,” she said.

Cermeño said she is grateful for the change in the restrictions because every person that crosses the border and visits downtown stores leaves an impact, whether it is a big or small purchase.

“We’re glad to welcome everyone and we’re happy that everyone will be returning soon and that the border will be reopening,” she said.

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