It's rare that something unites people of every political persuasion on my Twitter feed in shared hatred, but this Fast Company article about two ex-Google employees who are hoping to wipe out a chunk of the working-class economy with their glorified vending machine possesses that elusive magic.
"To me, it is offensive for people who are not Hispanic to use the name 'bodega, ' to make a quick buck", Frank Garcia, who chairs the New York State Coalition of Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, told Fast Company.
In one photo, cofounders Paul McDonald and Ashwath Rajan stand next to one of their box babies, smiling as though they did something more than make vending machines worse by adding shampoo to them.
"The vision here is much bigger than the box itself", McDonald explained in a story published by Fast Company. In an interview with FastCompany McDonald said, "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".
Solving a problem that doesn't exist to threaten the livelihoods of local bodegas is nefarious enough, but the venture also stands to get rid of arguably one of the most important bodega features-the bodega cat-which they've also co-opted for the startup's logo. "To compete with bodegas and also use the 'bodega" name is unbelievably disrespectful". The entire process happens without a person actually manning the "store". And not everyone has a credit card. What does the company unoriginally named after actual bodegas actually do?
But the future of that bodega experience may be threatened by a new innovation - which borrowed the same name - started by two former Google employees.
Also, the company is called "Bodega", which is really just asking for it. Not likely; according to its website, Bodega wants to partner with "offices, apartments, gyms, and college campuses"-so it's highly unlikely that this concept will replace your corner store".
New Yorkers generally can't agree on anything, so when the city collectively comes down hard on your business plan, it might be time to consider a pivot. Bodegas are already threatened by rising rents and New York's ultra-competitive real estate market, and neighborhoods suffer when these essential services are lost-a fact that seems to be lost on the folks behind Bodega-the-app-version. However, plenty of people have taken to social media to voice their displeasure with the startup and its aim at the demise of neighborhood staple bodegas primarily run by immigrant communities.