Fast Company has a profile out today about a new startup from the minds of two ex-Google employees, Paul McDonald and Ashwath Rajan, who supposedly want to make mom and pop corner stores “a thing of the past.”
Bodega, as its being called, sets, sets up five-foot-wide pantry boxes in places like apartment buildings, dorms, and gyms, filled with non-perishable food items and general household goods. Much like Amazon’s cashier-free Go stores, users will have to download an app on their phone that allows them to unlock the boxes. Then, cameras powered with computer vision will register what the user has selected and automatically charge their credit card.
“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.”
Aside from the concept being rather tone deaf (McDonald says he doesn’t find the name “Bodega” culturally insensitive), it can be argued that there are already several services in addition to Amazon that compete with corner stores while not threatening the fabric of their very existences. There’s room for more than one type of convenience shopping, and nobody actually wants to see brick and mortar bodegas being put out of business. (To add insult to injury, the Bodega logo is even a cat, a nod to the furry felines who notoriously lounge around corner stores.)
As such, Fast Company’s reply-to-retweet ratio linking the article got hella out of hand, real fast, as people were quick to point out the faults with Bodega’s business model:
Given this initial reaction, it’s safe to assume that your corner bodega isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Make sure to give the cat a pet on the head next time you visit one.