[At the former Golden Food Market on 7th and 1st]
A story today at Fast Company that may be of interest… From the article, titled Two Ex-Googlers Want To Make Bodegas And Mom-And-Pop Corner Stores Obsolete:”
Paul McDonald, who spent 13 years as a product manager at Google, wants to make this corner store a thing of the past. Today, he is launching a new concept called Bodega with his cofounder Ashwath Rajan, another Google veteran. Bodega sets up five-foot-wide pantry boxes filled with non-perishable items you might pick up at a convenience store. An app will allow you to unlock the box and cameras powered with computer vision will register what you’ve picked up, automatically charging your credit card. The entire process happens without a person actually manning the “store.”
Bodega’s logo is a cat, a nod to the popular bodega cat meme on social media – although if the duo gets their way, real felines won’t have brick-and-mortar shops to saunter around and take naps in much longer. “The vision here is much bigger than the box itself,” McDonald says. “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.”
I asked McDonald point-blank about whether he’s worried that the name Bodega might come off as culturally insensitive. Not really. “I’m not particularly concerned about it,” he says. “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.”
But some members of the Hispanic community don’t feel the same way. Take Frank Garcia, the chairman of the New York State Coalition of Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, who represents thousands of bodega owners. Garcia’s grandfather was the head of the Latin Grocery Association in the 1960s and was part of the original community of immigrants who helped settle on the term “bodega” for the corner store. “To me, it is offensive for people who are not Hispanic to use the name ‘bodega,’ to make a quick buck,’”Garcia says. “It’s disrespecting all the mom-and-pop bodega owners that started these businesses in the ’60s and ’70s.”
Bodega began trending on Twitter this morning…
Trying to destroy bodegas with a startup called “Bodega” that has a bodega cat logo is… just awful. https://t.co/1W4pSnXoXn
— hello i am anil (@anildash) September 13, 2017
my bodega owners are yemeni immigrants and the bodega not only affords them a life in new york but also allows them to send money back home
— Jessica Roy (@JessicaKRoy) September 13, 2017
Weird that they're calling this heinous vending machine "Bodega" and not "Gentrification Box" https://t.co/xPCozclRRD
— Tristan Cooper (@TristanACooper) September 13, 2017
If Bodega were called Nile or Mississippi, would reaction have been the same? FreshDirect, Amazon are active in NYC & not great for bodegas.
— Anjali Khosla (@hellomountfuji) September 13, 2017
I see the Bodega backlash backlash has begun.
*rubs hands together* Just as the machine learning predicted.
— Ian Bogost (@ibogost) September 13, 2017