"Invention Game " paying off
Remote carriers protect pricey accessory
When Jackie Harden was younger, she and her late brother
Jim used to play a game.
They called it the Invention Game, figuring that if they
could invent something people needed, they could become
A few years ago, Harden thought she had found her niche.
"I was at a swap meet," she said. "And I kept seeing
babies dropping their bottles onto the ground. I figured
I could invent a leash to keep the bottle from falling."
Excited, she went home and told her stepmother about it.
"I still remember her response," Harden said. "She said,
'I hate to burst your bubble, but ...'"
But someone already had come up with the idea.
She started two businesses while living in Northern
California - one a janitorial service and the other an
espresso truck - but soon realized they were too
labor-intensive for her ever really to make much money.
"The espresso was actually very successful," she said.
"I did it with my ex-husband, though, and when we got
divorced, I gave it up and moved down here."
Harden, who now lives on Ontario remarried, had a baby
and was a stay-at-home mother for six years. Her
husband. Dan, is a millwright, installing custom
conveyors in factories.
"We were living off his income," she said. "I wanted to
make some money, but with my lack of education, I knew I
was going to have to work for myself."
She got her inspiration -and finally the invention she
had been seeking - when her husband's remote controls
for his car alarm both broke.
"He went to the dealer and they wanted $93 to replace
one," she said. "He asked me if I could drill a hole or
something so it would stay on his key ring."
It was the "or something-" she came up with that might
make her a fortune. Harden sewed a leather pouch with a
grommet at one end to hold the remote.
"Dan told me I should market it," she said. "I told him
it was dumb, that there must already be something like
There wasn't, and Harden's "Remote Totes" are now on
sale at car dealers all across California and four other
states. She estimates that she has sold about 38,000 of
them at a profit of between $1 and $2 each, although
nearly all of the money has been poured back into
expanding. She started selling them at swap meets and
then on a Web site —
Her customers love the product, which not only keeps
their remotes on key rings, it also protects them from
getting wet or broken.
"What a great invention," said Mark Stillwater of
Oceanside. "I show mine off at work all the time."
Mario Aguilar of Brownsville, Texas, said the totes had
saved him from embarrassment.
"I had a broken remote for a long time," he said. "I had
to use a ladies' coin purse to carry it in. Talk about
At present, Harden has two employees - her stepdaughter
and her neighbor - making the totes. It costs her more
to have her production in California, but she doesn't
want to have her product made offshore.
She's still working to grow her business, but not as
much as she would have 10 years ago.
'Back then, I would have put 24 hours a day into this,"
she said. "But now my little boy -he's 51/2 - is my No.
By MICHAEL RAPPAPORT
Welcome to the
Remote Totes website. I want to keep you interested in
our story, so I will keep it short and sweet and
hopefully you will share it with your friends and
Back in 1802, no
wait it was 1804, okay just kidding we’re keeping this
short and sweet, that’s right! In 1999, my husband fell
victim of “remotas detaches “.
His car alarm remote had fallen off his key ring and
broke off the plastic loop that lets you connect your
remote to your key chain.
So like we all do, he started using his spare remote.
Months later he found himself a victim of “remotas
detaches” once again.
But this time he started drilling holes to reattach his
remote back onto his keychain. (Thank you to the
Bulletin for running a story about the “Remote Tote”.)
But for the record my husband did not ask me to drill a
hole for him, as stated in the article. He is quite
capable of drilling a hole by himself. Having said that,
let’s just say drilling a hole in his remote was a “short-lived quick fix”.
After returning home from the dealership, who by the way
wanted $98.00 for a new a remote and $30.00 to program
the new remote, when the old one worked just fine, my
husband asked me to“ sew him up a little pouch” to help
reattach his remote back onto his key chain.
This was when the idea of the “Remote Tote” was born.
While my husband was
showing off his new baby the “Remote Tote”, we found out
that he was not the only victim, as several of his
friends had discovered the same problem with their
In fact they all thought the “Remote Tote” was a great
idea and thought that we should market the idea.
I personally thought that they were abusing their
remotes, as men often do.
It wasn’t until my lovely son at age 18 months, now 11
and insisting I put his name in this story, James Lee
Harden, now a baseball player, while we were at the grocery store one day
damaged my remote.
I gave him my keys at the end of the trip to keep him quiet,
(okay to shut him up) not thinking about the car alarm
Yes, you’re right he sucked on it. But, it still worked,
that is until two weeks later, and then the corrosion
set in (that would be the rusty stuff), and my remote
would no longer work.
I had an older alarm that did not have a by pass, so I
was stranded. I know too long of a story, but a nice man
helped me out that day.
Truly I think back and it was about two or three months
later that my spare broke off my key ring and guess what
happened next? Yes, your right we started marketing the
We first started by
promoting the “Remote Totes” at the Orange County Swap
meet. And, at this time realized how many people were
looking for a product like this.
They not only wanted our product to reattach their
remotes, but the majority wanted to prevent the problem
from ever occurring.
Eventually, we were able to get the totes into the new
car dealerships and other retail locations throughout
the United States.
At this time I would like to give special thanks to Dean
D'alesio and Sharon D'alesio of
Not only did they help me with manufacturing the totes,
but when the demand began to grow they provided me with
all the knowledge and equipment needed to manufacture
the totes on my own.
We are very proud to be making our product in the United
States of America.
In closing we would
also like to thank all of our devoted customers who have
purchased our product throughout the years.
Thank you for your interest in our product and our
to the consumer:
of where you purchase your remote tote, we will
stand behind our product 100%. In the unlikely
event that you find defects in workmanship or
are not pleased with the product, please contact
us directly, and we will be happy to rectify the
situation. We want all of our customers to be
100% satisfied with our product."