The headline hit Twitter like a hammer (almost as if it had been specifically calibrated to do so): “Two Ex-Googlers Want To Make Bodegas And Mom-And-Pop Corner Stores Obsolete.” The article, published by Fast Company, unfurled the tale of a pair of tech bros who spun the “Disrupt” wheel and landed on “Bodegas? 🤷.”
Their game changing plan? To put devices in the lobbies of buildings that will sell essentials to the people living there. Can’t you just hear the dominoes falling?
Tech Bros: “They’re machines that vend!”
VC Guy: “I’ll have a dumptruck full of money at your house in an hour.”
Website Editor: “With the right headline, this will click like crazy!”
Reader: “I have to tweet about this out-of-touch bullshit.”
Twitter was set ablaze, which was actually kinda fun to watch. After all, the two entrepreneurs behind the concept seem to be blatantly courting controversy. They’ve named the company “Bodega” and made their logo a cat, for the cats that slink through the aisles of true NYC mom and pops. Did they forget that humans are communal creatures? Anyone who’s lived in New York (or parts of LA) sees these small shops as part of the community. Naturally, we protect our own.
So we fire tweet bombs on the tech bros. Rip them in 140 characters or less. But as the dust clears, a question arises: Does the tech industry actually know how to disrupt mom and pop shops? Are they that good?
Doubtful. If Amazon couldn’t kill bodegas, it’s not likely that this new venture will. Just look at their press images: They’re selling Advil, Tums, and Tide — all things that have been in the vending machine in the laundry room of every NYC apartment building for decades. They also seem to sell a variety of juices that your yoga instructor likes and those Terra chips that JetBlue drops on your lap while you try to sleep on the plane. Anyone treating this as a real threat to true mom and pop stores is just as out of touch as the two guys who started a company to kill bodegas, named it “Bodega,” and then expected shit not to hit the fan.