A pair of California, ex-Google staffers are trying to put the local corner store out of business with a glorified vending machine they are calling “Bodega.”
The machine — a roughly five-foot-wide box with a glass doors — is stocked with non-perishable convenience-store fare. Users can unlock the box with their phones — a camera watches what they remove and charges them accordingly.
It’s logo is a cat silhouette in an apparent reference to the animal’s ubiquity in corner stores.
Former Google product manager Paul McDonald said he and fellow ex-Googler Ashwath Rajan cooked up the concept to appeal to people who don’t want to walk around the corner for groceries, he told business magazine Fast Company.
“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.
The duo has been testing 30 such “bodegas” in the San Francisco Bay area and announced it plans on opening a total of 50 by on the West Coast — with designs for more than 1,000 nationwide by the end of 2018, the Web site reported.
Of course, actual New York bodega owners are none too excited about being replaced by robo-kiosks.
“I would ask my members not to allow these machines in any of their properties in New York State,” said Frank Garcia, chairman of the New York State Coalition of Hispanic Chamber of Commerce representing thousands of bodega owners.
“And we would ask our Hispanic community not to use the service because they are not really bodegas. Real bodegas are all about human relationships within a community, having someone you know greet you and make the sandwich you like.”
McDonald said he’s “not particularly concerned” about offending anyone with the name, either.
“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,’” he said. “It’s a simple name and I think it works.”