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Bodega and the Persistent, Puzzling Tone-Deafness of Silicon Valley Startups

14 September, 2017, 01:11 | Author: Jeff Stephens
  • Motorcycle Bodega in NYCFacebook Motorcycle Bodega NYC

Many shoppers won't want to abandon their local stores, said Trisha Chakrabarti, of Mandela MarketPlace, a California nonprofit that supports local grocery stores.

"Despite our best intentions and our admiration for traditional bodegas, we clearly hit a nerve this morning", Bodega wrote in a Medium post.

"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", McDonald said. Unlike classic bodegas and mom-and-pop corner stores, these machine box things will not make you an egg and cheese on a roll, and they will certainly not recognize you and talk with you about whatever the hell you talk about at 2 a.m. on a weekday when you've wandered in cuz you can't sleep and now you're hungry.

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One of the founders, neither of whom could immediately be reached for comment by CNBC Make It, tells TechCrunch this about the company: "There's really only been two options: you can go to the store, or you can order something online", says McDonald. But who would want to? The idea behind the venture hasn't been sitting well with Twitter users.

Indeed, the fact that Bodegas won't serve diverse customer bases is part of the business logic behind them. He and Rajan are using demographic data to fill the machines in the first place, because "each community tends to have relatively homogenous tastes, given that they live or work in the same place".

This may be one of the most tone deaf and useless ideas to come out of Silicon Valley, but it's also actively malicious.

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Bodega, the NY term which references corner stores is a start-up company by Paul McDonald and Ashwath Rajan. "It's a simple name and I think it works", cofounder Paul McDonald told the magazine. We see a future where anyone can own and operate a Bodega - delivering relevant items and a great retail experience to places no corner store would ever open. What's the real cost?

As essential part of living in NY is stopping by your local bodega for a breakfast sandwich, late-night snack or even a six pack. Nothing can save most of those jobs, but smart companies, wary of backlash, will follow the example of Amazon, which has been careful to tout its job-creation efforts and plans to bless a major USA city with a second headquarters as it moves ahead with its rollout of cashier-free stores.

The company's concept isn't novel: Position pantry boxes stocked with non-perishable, convenience store items in locations that shoppers frequent - like gyms and dorms and a buildings - by striking deals with property managers.

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And I'd feel that way even if I hadn't got engaged in a bodega.

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