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Businesses The Almighty Buck

Two Ex-Googlers Want To Make Bodegas And Mom-And-Pop Corner Stores Obsolete (fastcompany.com) 342

Elizabeth Segran, writing for FastCompany: While it sometimes feels like we do all of our shopping on the internet, government data shows that actually less than 10% of all retail transactions happen online. In a world where we get our groceries delivered in just two hours through Instacart or Amazon Fresh, the humble corner store -- or bodega, as they are known in New York and Los Angeles -- still performs a valuable function. No matter how organized you are, you're bound to run out of milk or diapers in the middle of the night and need to make a quick visit to your neighborhood retailer. 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."
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Two Ex-Googlers Want To Make Bodegas And Mom-And-Pop Corner Stores Obsolete

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  • OMFG! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jcr ( 53032 ) <[moc.cam] [ta] [rcj]> on Thursday September 14, 2017 @10:22AM (#55195407) Journal

    They've invented the Vending Machine! Stop the presses! This will change the world!

    -jcr

    • My reaction exactly!

      • by jcr ( 53032 )

        Oh, for fuck's sake. They got VCs to back this, too. Looks like it's bubble time again.

        Hey, Josh Kopelman at First Round Capital, Kirsten Green at Forerunner Ventures, and Hunter Walk at Homebrew: you suck at your jobs.

        -jcr

        • It's been bubble time for a while now, but let's count how many people are going to be surprised when the bubble inevitably pops.

          The venture won't see that, though -- my prediction it's an obviously dumb idea that will go exactly nowhere. In the meantime, I'll extract maximum laughter out of it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, so if the closest "bodega" doesn't have what you're looking for, I'm sure the app will tell you the closest one is 15 blocks away. This will flop. People want to go into a store and talk to someone. I love my dirty, shitty little hole in the wall convenience stores (we don't call them bodegas on the West coast). They also keep a lot of people employed across the nation. This will eliminate a ton of jobs, make a couple people very rich and only create a few new jobs for those who are stocking the

    • It's not even a new improvement on the vending machine we have had similar in our offices for over 3 years now and it wasn't new when we got it.

    • Re:OMFG! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @10:59AM (#55195809) Journal
      If it doesn't sell alcohol and cigarettes, it's not going to replace the corner store.

      Also, I've known too many "ex-Googlers" to see that as an endorsement.
    • not as good (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Comboman ( 895500 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @11:01AM (#55195823)
      A vending machine is considerably more complex with a higher level of automation. This is just a hotel minibar.
      • by Bob-Bob Hardyoyo ( 4240135 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @12:34PM (#55196627)
        I apologize for being that guy, but it has apps! It's revolutionary! Revolutionary apps for your revolutionary paradigms that allow you to synergise your technology enabled lifestyle! Now with integrated fitbit support so you can burn off that candy bar as you eat it! Eat it on the go to keep up with the fast paced modern world! With apps!
    • LOL. I would mod you up, but you are already at 5.
    • Vending machines with variable products and a list of which products are stored closest to you.

      So a vending machine plus. Or maybe a super vending machine. Though I think super vending machine should go to those awesome Japanese car vending machines were you park you car and it stores it in the building.

    • What I think is daft is the insinuation that people will like these things, therefore they are bad. I don't particularly see the point of these things, but saying 'This is a terrible idea!' while at the same time saying 'People will use these so much that small stores will go out of business' are contradictory statements. If people want these, they'll use them. If people don't, then they will not be replacing anything. Which is it, are they horrible, or are they going to be welcomed? It can't be both.

      T

    • They've invented the Vending Machine!

      Actually, they've managed to make something less useful than a vending machine.If they'd figured out a way to make vending machines more useful, that would have been news. This is mostly a story of how venture capitalists are blowing their money on dumb ideas.

    • Re:OMFG! (Score:5, Funny)

      by snookiex ( 1814614 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @12:01PM (#55196347) Homepage

      You clearly know nothing about "disruptive innovation". And even less about hipsters.

    • Re:OMFG! (Score:5, Funny)

      by slashrio ( 2584709 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @12:36PM (#55196653)
      No, it's a RoBodega.
    • And not even a very good one:

      From the summary: "No matter how organized you are, you're bound to run out of milk... Bodega sets up five-foot-wide pantry boxes filled with non-perishable items"

      These tech geniuses haven't even mastered refrigeration so they can stock the very stuff folk need. If it's non perishable, I'm less likely to run out of it (because I can keep more of it in the pantry) and there's a good chance I can wait two days for Amazon to deliver.

      This reminds me of the US supermarkets that have

  • by Mr. Neutron ( 3115 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @10:23AM (#55195421) Homepage Journal

    That's what Millennials are for.

  • See, Google execs get to prance around all high and mighty about how much they 'care' about workers by pushing for a $15/hour (or make that $30/hour after they get their way with $15) minimum wage.

    It's a great way to point guns at the heads of their competitors to make it easier to drive them out of business with their new "startup" ideas.

  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @10:26AM (#55195455)

    what about stuff by law can't be self checkout like beer and smokes? also WIC and food stamps?

    • The US government has you covered - Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

      Oh. Wait.

    • by Kierthos ( 225954 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @10:37AM (#55195581) Homepage

      Exactly. This is one of those ideas that "looks good on paper" and is certainly designed to attract venture capitalists, but will really fall flat for a number of reasons.

      As you mentioned, they won't be able to sell any forms of alcohol or tobacco through these cabinets. They also probably won't be able to sell any types of lottery tickets.

      They almost certainly won't have any sort of products that require freezing or refrigeration, as that significantly ups the power requirements and size of the unit.

      Forget any fresh produce, or anything with a very limited shelf life. Or freshly made sandwiches.

      So, already they're not replacing a lot of things that people go to bodegas for.

      Now, and it's possible they've already thought about this, but what's their "return" policy? You see, at an actual bodega (or any store, for that matter), I could be shopping, and put something in my cart, and then decide "Nah, I really don't need this." and put it back on the shelf.

      What happens when you do that here? Do you confirm your purchases? What do they have in place for loss prevention (i.e. the five-finger discount)?

      What do they have in place for if someone accidentally knocks something off the shelf when reaching in for something else? Are you charged for that?

      What do they have in place for requesting products that aren't in the cabinet at all? How easily can that be manipulated to, say, have every cabinet stock up on products that won't sell, because someone decided to troll their request service? (Even assuming that they have something like that set up.)

      • They also probably won't be able to sell any types of lottery tickets.

        In my state, vending machines that sell lottery tickets are quite common, so that probably won't be an issue.

        However, the corner stores in my area make ~80% of their money selling four things: cigarettes, beer, lottery tickets, and milk. These vending machines will, at best, be able to sell one of those four moneymakers.

      • We already have something similar to this in all our offices it's not new. You do have to pay with card there is no cash option.

        I would imagine that offices and in door public places would be where they launch. Their example in tfa was a college dorm.

      • Now, and it's possible they've already thought about this, but what's their "return" policy? You see, at an actual bodega (or any store, for that matter), I could be shopping, and put something in my cart, and then decide "Nah, I really don't need this." and put it back on the shelf. What happens when you do that here? Do you confirm your purchases? What do they have in place for loss prevention (i.e. the five-finger discount)?

        Since they're filming & scanning what you're buying, and you need a credit card to open it up, they're probably not concerned about shoplifting. There's the middle situation though that might not have been addressed. What if someone picks a box of Cheese Nips from the shelf, opens the box & scarfs down half of it, then puts the box back in? Are they weighing the items on the shelves, the way shelf check-outs do to know that you put your items in bags? Even so, you could grab the Cheese Nips, pour o

    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      what about...WIC and food stamps?

      You actually think they will place these in building where people using WIC or food stamps live? Those people wouldn't pay for the markup this vending machine is destined to have.

    • by dj245 ( 732906 )

      what about stuff by law can't be self checkout like beer and smokes? also WIC and food stamps?

      I am sure age-restricted items could be managed with a photo ID scanner and a video link to a call center in India.

    • In my state, you have to be over 18 to purchase tobacco, and be 21 and present when mail arrives or when you purchase from a store to receive alcohol or anything containing Salvinorin A. That's not a whole lot of stuff.

      There used to be cigarette vending machines. I don't understand why we can't accept BCWIC machines on credit card only. You can't have a credit card until you're 18; just lower the drinking age to 18 and let folks get beer, cider, and wine in cans so long as the machine is credit card o

      • You can't have a credit card until you're 18

        This simply isn't true. It's quite easy to get a prepaid credit card when at any age.

        • If it's prepaid, it's not a credit card, it's a debit card.

          • The practical difference between a credit card and a debit card is which system is used to clear payments. A prepaid credit card is a credit card in the sense that that's how payment processing systems will see it. As a result, you cannot make the assumption that just because a credit card is being used, the owner of it must be at least 18 years old.

  • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @10:26AM (#55195457)

    From http://money.cnn.com/2017/09/1... [cnn.com]

    A new startup called Bodega launched Wednesday and has already apologized in the face of mounting outrage.
    Folks weren't happy that Bodega appeared to be taking aim at mom-and-pop shops run by hardworking immigrants, while simultaneously misappropriating immigrant culture and celebrating gentrification.
    "Despite our best intentions and our admiration for traditional bodegas, we clearly hit a nerve this morning," Bodega wrote in a Medium post. "And we apologize to anyone we've offended. Rather than disrespect to traditional corner stores -- or worse yet, a threat -- we intended only admiration."

    And https://blog.bodega.ai/so-abou... [bodega.ai]

    Yes, clearly. The name Bodega sparked a wave of criticism on social media far beyond what we ever imagined. When we first came up with the idea to call the company Bodega we recognized that there was a risk of it being interpreted as misappropriation. We did some homework—speaking to New Yorkers, branding people, and even running some survey work asking about the name and any potential offense it might cause. But it’s clear that we may not have been asking the right questions of the right people.

    Way to go there!

    • by jcr ( 53032 ) <[moc.cam] [ta] [rcj]> on Thursday September 14, 2017 @10:29AM (#55195497) Journal

      Meh. I couldn't care less if they piss off a pack of SJWs with the name, I'm just disgusted that they could get funding for such trivial shit.

      -jcr

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        with the name

        I did some digging after seeing the outrage. Bodega is Spanish.

        1846, "wine shop," from Mexican Spanish, from Spanish bodega "a wine shop; wine-cellar," from Latin apotheca, from Greek apotheke "depot, store" (see apothecary). Since 1970s in American English it has come to mean "corner convenience store or grocery," especially in a Spanish-speaking community, but in New York City and some other places used generically. Also a doublet of boutique. Italian cognate bottega entered English c. 1900 as "artist's workshop or studio," especially in Italy.

        When was the last time there was a Spaniard running one of these shops?

        Where's the manufactured outrage that the Indians and Arabs culturally appropriated some Spanish?

        I did some more digging into the twitter profiles of those offended and it made a lot more sense. Outrage for the sake of outrage.

        • >When was the last time there was a Spaniard running one of these shops?

          I saw some in Spain recently.

      • by sl3xd ( 111641 )

        I couldn't care less if they piss off a pack of SJWs with the name, I'm just disgusted that they could get funding for such trivial shit.

        I'd say this is just misdirection: They're trying to deflect criticism of their awful idea by saying "people are manufacturing controversy over our name".

    • So gas stations and convenient stores are considered immigrant culture?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by tomhath ( 637240 )

      “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.”

      In fact, Garcia would consider making it harder for McDonald to set up the pantry boxes within his community.

      The obvious solution is to change the name from "bodega" to "McDonald's". Oh wait.

    • Holy shit, that blog post is hilarious in its cluelessness!

      When we first came up with the idea to call the company Bodega we recognized that there was a risk of it being interpreted as misappropriation.

      And yet, they went with the name despite instinctively knowing it was a terrible idea.

      We did some homework—speaking to New Yorkers, branding people, and even running some survey work asking about the name and any potential offense it might cause.

      Unless your target market is limited to New York, speaking to New Yorkers tells you nearly nothing. Speaking to branding people can be a helpful, but only if you've hired them to actually conduct a real study.

      In other words, they didn't do their homework.

    • "Rather than disrespect to traditional corner stores -- or worse yet, a threat -- we intended only admiration."

      No, you almost certainly intend to play off their name's familiarity and steal their business.

      There's nothing inherently wrong with trying to steal another company's business; that's the American way. But don't be surprised at the blowback when you're yet another privileged tech "entrepreneur" looking to get filthy rich by putting local mom and pop shops out of business, wholesale.

    • >> while simultaneously misappropriating immigrant culture

      Dafuq? I wasn't aware that running a small store was something only immigrants could do.
    • ... what? Misappropriating immigrant culture. What?
    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      You know, this is one of the reasons you have market research and focus groups: so you don't do things and use messaging that reveals the world what an ignorant asshole you are.

      It's not a job for amateurs. You need a professional asshole.

    • by Oswald McWeany ( 2428506 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @11:31AM (#55196067)

      I'm a big opponent of racism. I am all for equal opportunities and reforming society.

      This whole concept of "cultural appropriation" is just ridiculous though. Culture and ideas have always been passed from one culture to another throughout history and that's a good thing.

      When one culture does something good that others want to copy, that's a good thing. Sure, something like wearing cornrows in your hair may not necessarily advance society, but there have been times when certain cultural aspects have. Whether it's more practical clothing passed from one culture to another, or Native Americans passing harvesting and agricultural ideas on to colonists, stirrups making their way down from the steppe, the list is endless.

      If we strictly enforce the "cultural appropriation is bad" angle, immigrants shouldn't try to fit into their new country because that is appropriating the culture of their hosts. They should keep to their own kind, their own traditions, language, etc, and isolate themselves.

      This is all ludicrous! If I like Indian food, I don't see why I shouldn't have a curry. If I like big hair, I would grow an afro. Heck, I may wear a mandarin collar, or walk around wearing tennis shoes with jeans like an American. I like and appreciate many things from many cultures, it shouldn't be frowned upon me showing appreciation for them.

      This whole "cultural appropriation is bad" movement is really counter-productive and stupid.

    • by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @12:40PM (#55196699)

      Misappropriation? What, are they cheating on their taxes?

      The SJW term they want is "cultural appropriation", as in, "STOP APPROPRIATING MY CULTURE!". Which is an entirely bullshit concept. Should the Germans raise hell about cultural appropriation every time a non German has a Christmas tree? Should Mexicans not serve/sell Mexican food to non Mexicans? Cultural appropriation is what this country of immigrants is all about. Do you want to ban all "X-Y-fusion" cuisine? Cut off the weebs from their anime? (Or cut off the Japanese from their anime because they "appropriated" US comics % Donald Duck to create it?)

      Why do the SJWs love to remind us that we're ALL immigrants, but now seem to hate when anyone shares, adopts, or is influenced by other cultures? Do they want us all living in different enclaves, hating each other? (Yes, they do. Decades ago the official metaphor was a melting pot. Now it's a stew. Because in a melting pot, you lose the "identity" of individual ingredients as they blend.)

      The earliest modern claim of "cultural appropriation" I can remember is people saying whites stole music (like jazz) from blacks to make their own (like rock and roll). WTF kind of sense does that make? At least save such criticisms for when it actually makes sense, like the 80s and 90s miasma of white suburbanites pretending to be urban blacks. But hey, I guess a bunch of MTV execs made tons of money off of it, so it gets a pass?

      People are right to hate on this "Bodega" startup. Not because it poses a threat to small businesses. Not because it's appropriating culture. But because it'll be a shitty, manufactured, mockery of a small market.

  • Mom and Pop Corner Stores want to make Google obsolete.

    It won't be that hard. A little recession could do the job easily.

  • so why do I need a phone + data plan to use a vending system??

    mini market vending systems take cash and have self scan no need for a phone / data plan.

    • Big Data (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Comboman ( 895500 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @10:56AM (#55195769)

      so why do I need a phone + data plan to use a vending system??

      So they can track your spending habits and sell it to Big Data. Mostly-cash businesses like bodegas are one of the last untracked businesses.

    • Yes, there's exactly zero chance that I'll use a vending machine that requires me to use an app or that won't take cash.

      But I'm sure there are plenty of people who would.

  • by enjar ( 249223 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @10:36AM (#55195561) Homepage
    Aside from the apt "vending machine" comparison being made, I've also seen similar things at hotels I've stayed at, usually adjacent to the lobby where it can be monitored by hotel staff -- but the charging mechanism is via room key. Snacks, toiletries, drinks, etc. Prices are less than minibar and more similar to "convenient store". We also have a similar system for buying snacks at work -- you pick up the snack you want, take it to a kiosk and scan it. This gives a wider selection of stuff, which could be changed up as needed/desired, and the buying area is monitored with cameras. Probably wouldn't work in an "open to the public" setting without a lot better security, but for an office setting we get much better snack selection vs. vending machine. We also have vending machines around that work with Android/Apple Pay -- no app required. Of course, there are the fabled Japanese vending machines, which legend says sell just about anything you can imagine. Then there are the similar machines at airports ... so yeah, a more crowded space for something that's already been invented many times, and one whose implementation details have already been worked out elsewhere by other firms who are doing essentially the same thing one way or another.
  • I haven't gone out to go shopping for months, and before that time, it was also probably 4-6 months. When I did go out the shopping was sort of incidental; a stop for something after a movie or dinner out typically. Perhaps when I leave the hell-hole that is Southern California I'll go out more but for now I treat this place like the cesspool that it is.
    • I haven't gone out to go shopping for months, and before that time, it was also probably 4-6 months. When I did go out the shopping was sort of incidental; a stop for something after a movie or dinner out typically.

      Clearly you do not have kids

  • You, allot of people, the majority of humanity I would imagine, actually prefer not to be chained to a monitor/tablet/iCrap device 23 hours a day. We enjoy walking around, taking a break, a quick browse to the corner store..... To envision no "need" for that indicates you're really whacked. Step away from the keyboard, put down the VR glasses and talk to a person, you know, face to face....
  • by Dripdry ( 1062282 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @10:39AM (#55195607) Journal

    Since bodegas are for peemergencies AND convenience items, I assume they'll add toilets too (or else their little "ventures" will become a convenient receptacle for that anyway).

  • What's that again? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @10:40AM (#55195617)

    "In a world where we get our groceries delivered in just two hours through Instacart or Amazon Fresh, ..."

    What world is he speaking about? It doesn't sound like this one...

    • by Comboman ( 895500 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @10:59AM (#55195803)
      Silicon Valley. The rest of the world does not exist to these people.
    • It's the world of Silicon Valley.

    • What world is he speaking about? It doesn't sound like this one...

      "The World" == "New York" || "Los Angeles"

      I mean we're making strides, I can get Shipt delivered groceries here in Alabama, but it's very dismissive to just assume that everyone a.) has internet access, and b.) can just "order food for instant delivery".

      • For me, the blockers would be produce and meat. And bread. Well, most anything perishable, in all likelihood. I want to be picking that stuff out. The bottom line is, the person who's being paid by Amazon Fresh (or whatever corp we're talking about) is ultimately looking to keep them happy first, me second. I don't care if there's a hassle-free return policy, since having to return food EVER is inconvenient and annoying at best. If we're making a stir fry tonight and some unacceptable peppers are delivered

  • The killer part of the idea.

    Autonomous stores.

    They drive around to where people are tweeting or facebooking from, with no driver, no cashier. Just an occasional visit from someone to restock.

    Or they could drive back to a robot refilling station to recharge their wares.

  • What a dumb idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rick Schumann ( 4662797 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @10:59AM (#55195805) Journal
    Have these people ever been in a convenience store, or do they have such horribly crippling social anxiety disorder that they never go outside where there might be (shocking!!!) PEOPLE they would have to interact with?

    I'll fill in the gaps for them: There is an order of magnitude, at least more items available in the typical convenience store than their vending machine (and that's what it is, a vending machine!) can hold -- and all that includes refrigerated and frozen items. All they're doing is re-inventing the vending machine. This is not revolutionary, this is not ground-breaking, this is not innovative in any way, and this is one of the most clueless things I've heard of. There will always be a need for 'mom and pop' convenience stores, and 7-11, and what-have-you. Do they really think that they're going to put all of these out of business? Do they really think they're going to convince every gas station in the country (on the planet?) to dump their convenience store side of the business for an overblown vending machine? Clueless, clueless, clueless. And what's even worse: anything you bought from it would be tracked because you're essentially using plastic to buy it. More marketing data for them to sell on the back end! The hell with that, and the hell with these clueless idiots.
    • There will always be a need for 'mom and pop' convenience stores, and 7-11, and what-have-you.

      I agree with this. What's not so clear is that there will always be a need for people to staff such stores. Their idea of using a small box on the street may be foolish (or may not... it may just augment the stores, so you don't have to go all the way to the corner for some stuff), but automated checkout from unattended stores seems quite likely to become the norm at some point.

  • 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.

    And will each of those boxes have the same inventory? Because at 5 feet wide, they aren't going to have nearly the same selection. They might poach the 20% of bodega trips with the highest-turnover, highest-profit items - the same way oil change shops took that service away from full-service garages - but someone still has to carry the other 80% of the inventory.

    • And will each of those boxes have the same inventory?

      TFA covers this. The idea is that the inventory for each vending machine is customized for the specific location the machine is in.

  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @11:24AM (#55196013)

    ...there will be 100,000 Bodegas spread out, with one always 100 feet away from you.

    They're called Starbucks.

  • There's thousands of vending machines everywhere you go in Japan. They don't need "cameras powered with computer vision" to register what you've picked up and automatically charging your credit card.

    • I will laugh when some of the neighborhood boys come in costume and make quick work of damaging their shit.
  • I really don't know what else people buy in those stores, that's all I ever see anybody buy - cigarettes, alcohol and lottery tickets.
  • by whitroth ( 9367 ) <whitrothNO@SPAM5-cent.us> on Thursday September 14, 2017 @11:38AM (#55196127) Homepage

    ...the better. And may they wind up working in a convenience corner store for a living....

  • I can see this idea as a positive one if the self-serve portion of the store is linked to a regularly manned store. During normal business hours both the self-serve and the manned portion of the store will be open. At other times only the self-serve side will be open for business. This is similar to how a 24 hour gas station works.
    There are a couple of downsides though. What about folks who don't have credit cards? Are they are out of luck? Also, security could be an issue.

  • by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @11:46AM (#55196189)
    These two ex-Googlers ought to get out of their ivory tower and see what life is like in a poor, inner-city environment where it is either the bodega or a food desert. I am from Philadelphia and neighborhoods thrive on bodegas where food is cheap and available. We don't have Whole Foods, Giant, Super Fresh, and shit that caters to millennials. We're poor folk living on scraps. I live in this neighborhood because it is all I can afford. I don't have a credit or debit card because no bank will touch me because life happened, I got sick, and became disabled. I don't have the luxury of even living in a safe neighborhood. Leave the bodega alone, assholes!
  • Mom-And-Pop Corner Stores Obsolete

    The very term "mom-and-pop" is meant to evoke emotional disapproval of whatever it is that threatens the obsoletion. And, because the only way to protect a business from being obsoleted by another business in a free market is via a government regulation, this is an appeal to the government...

  • Convenience stores are - wait for it - convenient.

    The owner knows what people need and adjusts stock accordingly. He's basically the maintenance man of a large walk-in vending machine. One that will call the cops if there's trouble in the neighborhood or cook coffee if you want some. No way it's any glorified vending machine going to replace convenience stores and kiosks.

    Just like a coffee robot will never replace the cute young ladies serving me at my favorite Cafe.

  • Make a bunch of hipster services...

    bodegagateway.com - you order your groceries online, and they are carted from a corner store market to your house via rickshaw for the ultimate experience.

    ryckshaw.com - While I'm at it, let's make a rickshaw-hiring app! This would be like Lyft, but with rickshaws.

    Stand back boys, I'm gonna get RICH!


    [this post has been brought to you by the word 'Sarcasm']
  • Offhand, I'd say what could go wrong is people wearing masks, waiting for someone else to open the door, then rushing in and emptying all the shelves.
  • by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @12:15PM (#55196469)

    or bodega, as they are known in New York and Los Angeles

    New York is the only place that calls it a bodega. You may have a few New York wannabes in LA calling them that, but no one with a brain does.

  • by bradley13 ( 1118935 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @12:51PM (#55196795) Homepage

    Others have already pointed out: "they've invented the vending machine", and "how could they get funding for such trivial shit".

    On a slightly more serious, but no less critical note, three criticisms:

    - This is a business model with a huge logistics tail. Plus a lot of personnel: someone has to re-stock their little shops, someone has to clean them, etc.. This requires a lot of low-paid personnel, who will require supervision, and on up the chain. A Mom'n'pop business actually has the advantage here, because they mostly employee relatives and people they know.

    - These microshops won't carry most of what people actually need and/or want at odd hours: perishables like bread and milk, or else high-margin items like alcohol and tobacco that actually keep lots of little shops in business.

    - Nice neighborhoods aren't going to shop in little boxes. Put unattended boxes in not-nice neighborhoods, and they will get trashed, robbed, and vandalized

    So it's hard to see who the customers are going to be, and harder to see how they're going to make any money. OTOH, this is all a social good: some VCs clearly have too much money. By throwing it at doomed-to-fail enterprises like Juicero and Bodega, they're putting their money back into circulation. That's really nice of them, don't you think?

"To IBM, 'open' means there is a modicum of interoperability among some of their equipment." -- Harv Masterson

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