Yesterday two former Google employees released a new retail concept called Bodega. These glorified vending machines, placed anywhere from college campuses to offices, would be stocked with anything from popular snacks and drinks to toiletries. All you have to do is open the corresponding app, enter the code, take what you want, and voilá, you’re good to go. The integrated software and camera would know what items you take and charge your account accordingly.
Concept is relatively simple, right? But it’s not the concept that is receiving harsh criticism on social media, it’s the name. In New York City and Los Angeles, where the majority of bodega owners are immigrant workers supporting their families, it is so much more than a name. It’s something that represents a sense of local community and family.
“The name Bodega sparked a wave of criticism on social media far beyond what we ever imagined.” CEO and Co-Founder Paul McDonald released on the sites blog. That is an understatement. Twitter went ballistic after the launch.
“Are we trying to put corner stores out of business? Definitely not. Challenging the urban corner store is not and has never been our goal.”, said McDonald. But that didn’t exactly come across when they decided to name their company after beloved corner stores…
“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.” Well… clearly.
Ok MAYBE the concept COULD work in remote college campuses outside of metropolitan cities, or even small offices in suburban America, mostly because of the difficulty of access, but in big cities? Not so much. Plus, there are still a lot of questions that have yet to be answered. Like, how much does this differ from other delivery services or even traditional vending machines? How quickly will the replacement supplies arrive? How secure is it? I guess only time will tell.
What are your thoughts on the new Bodega app? Good idea? Bad idea?
Images provided by Bodega