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No, Silicon Valley Startup ‘Bodega’ Won’t Kill Your Local Bodega, Here’s Why

Over the past 48 hours, the Internet has become absolutely pissed at Silicon Valley startup Bodega. The high-tech vending machine company draws its name from traditional bodega stores, and even has a logo heralding to the cats you find in them.

Fast Company’s report on their business claims that they could make these stores obsolete. Between their reporting, which portrays Bodega as a threat to the traditional corner store, and the company’s name and logo, which Fast Company uncovers is based off of a meme rather than traditional bodega cats, the startup’s business idea has come off as extremely culturally insensitive. Bodega has since received some scathing backlash as a result of the tone-deaf narrative built around it that the business’ model was to kill the iconic corner store.

Between the branding of Bodega and Fast Company’s presentation of the business, it’s clear that how the startup was marketed and its brand image are culturally insensitive. However, if you take away the name, the logo, and Fast Company’s article, the smart cabinet is pretty useful. Furthermore, it doesn’t present a threat to corner stores despite the portrayal that Bodega could put those out of business.

Why Bodegas Don’t Need To Be Worried About Bodega

Vending machines definitely need a high-tech facelift, and what this box offers in that regard is truly innovative. At its bare bones, this is a high-tech, convenient vending machine that requires an app to unlock and automatically charges your credit card. You can even change what’s inside depending on where a particular box is. For example, protein bars and powders could be in a cabinet inside of a gym while pencils and Scantrons are available in college dorm boxes. It’s a fast and convenient way to purchase and acquire items, and, if your particular need is in a box, can be faster than Amazon or online ordering.

This makes Bodega a great alternative to a vending machine, but not to a bodega. There’s so much more that family-run corner stores offer than the convenience and accessibility to particular goods. They’re a place to converse, enjoy good eats, and hang out with local friends and cats. Families and individuals own these places and give them personalities, character, and a unique history. That’s something that Bodega’s vending machines will never be able to provide to locals, and why true bodegas will still remain in business even if these machines proliferate onto every street corner. Considering they’re mainly in high-end office buildings, gyms, and hotels right now, that scenario is highly unlikely.

Overall, an affluent, tone-deaf vending machine is definitely not comparable to a store that provides culture, community, and history to entire neighborhoods. Plus, you can’t get an amazing bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich along with some quality feline company from a pantry box at 3 a.m.

By Constantine Spyrou

Constantine's life revolves around eating, studying, and talking about food. He's obsessed with eggs, gyros, and the future of food.