In cities around America, small stores, often run by immigrants, are what keep locals going. In New York City, these stores are called bodegas; in other cities, they're known as corner stores or convenience stores or packies. And now, two ex-Googlers have proudly started a business that might shutter these cherished institutions forever, according to Fast Company.
The actual details of the business have a lot of bodega-lovers concerned—basically, the company wants to install giant minibars in apartment lobbies filled with toiletries and essentials. This startup, which is literally called Bodega, features a cat as its logo in a nod to the cat-filled brick-and-mortar stores the company is trying to replace.
“The vision here is much bigger than the box itself,” said Bodega's co-founder, Paul McDonald. “Eventually, centralized shopping locations won’t be necessary, because there will be 100,000 Bodegas spread out, with one always 100 feet away from you.”
And McDonald doesn't seem to see the name as culturally appropriative. “I’m not particularly concerned about it,” he told Fast Company. “We did surveys in the Latin American community to understand if they felt the name was a misappropriation of that term or had negative connotations, and 97% said ‘no’. It’s a simple name and I think it works.”
In New York City, where I live, bodegas are places where you buy a deli sandwich and a single bottle of beer (which has been my dinner more times than I can count) while petting a bodega cat and meeting up with your neighbors. Immigrant communities that own these businesses often use these places as hubs in which to watch sports or listen to music together; in this way, they're one of the last diverse holdouts found in increasingly gentrified and dull urban spaces.
For so many reasons, people feel that tech can't replace bodegas in their communities.
[h/t Fast Company]
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