The evils of gentrification just reached a new low. Two former Google execs have a startup called Bodega, with the aim of making the mom-and-pop corner stores we grew up with a thing of the past. Basically, everything about it will make your blood boil.
According to the company website, Bodega brings you "the relevant slice of a store" where you can "take what you need and walk away."
Based on a profile by Fast Company, you get a selection of non-perishable products in a "five-foot-wide" pantry box that you access and pay for through an app on your phone.
We read all of that as: Access to all of the product and none of the people of color you usually interact with in a bodega to get them. It's a slap in the face to the Latinos who coined the term, the immigrants who make their living off these businesses, and the communities who can't imagine life without them.
And just when you thought the blatant insensitivity and cultural appropriation couldn't be anymore clear, it chose a company logo inspired by a bodega cat!
And make no mistake, co-founders Paul McDonald and Ashwath Rajan are absolutely coming for the convenience stores you know and love.
“The vision here is much bigger than the box itself,” McDonald told 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.”
And get this: They don't even pay rent in most cases, an escalating cost that has put many bodega owners out of business. The company gets away with it by pitching itself as an amenity that property owners can offer to tenants.
With a business model like that, it's no wonder Bodega has been able to secure funding from multiple venture capitalists and angel investors, which has helped them to grow rapidly. It started out with 30 test locations in the Bay Area and just unveiled 50 new locations in the West Coast. Its goal is to have over a thousand locations nationwide by the end of 2018.
When asked if he was worried that using the term "bodega" might be seen as "culturally insensitive," McDonald told Fast Company, "I’m not particularly concerned about it." SHOCKING.
"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.' It’s a simple name and I think it works," he added. Were these people all from Silicon Valley? We'd love to see everyone's background in that sample.