If you're a New Yorker and want to grab a quick drink, buy a lottery ticket, or even pet a cat while your favorite sandwich is being made, where do you go? The bodega down the street right? The local counterman may have even known you, your family, and friends for years.
Two ex-Google employees Paul McDonald and Ashwath Rajan have recently launched a concept called Bodega which basically minimizes these mom-and-pop shops and puts them in a pantry box. Ultimately, it makes these long- established convenience stores more convenient. According to Fast Company, the entrepreneurs have already launched their concept in California's Bay Area. They've been installed in apartment buildings, sorority houses and more. While one can't deny that the concept of having the items customized to your need is a cool idea, there's one thing that the Latino and New York community cannot overlook. These men are putting real-life Bodegas out of business.
Did these two really think Latinos weren't going to say something? Bodegas are a huge part of not only the Latino community but the Big Apple community as a whole. Bodega owners aren't just store clerks that you say "Hi" and "Bye" to – chances are, they know your name, your favorite sandwich, and sometimes even offer great advice while ringing you up. No one can replace that relationship and people are making sure the entrepreneurs know that. During an interview with FastCompany, McDonald said “I’m not particularly concerned about it,” when asked about whether the name was culturally insensitive “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.”
Where was my survey though? These two aren't just getting criticism from the media – "to compete with bodegas and also use the ‘bodega’ name is unbelievably disrespectful.” says Frank Garcia, Chairman of the New York State Coalition of Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He, along with much of the Latino and New York community don't want to see the end of Bodegas – especially not by non-latinos who have misappropriated our culture. These shops serve as the backbone of neighborhoods and no one can replace that.
Hopefully, these two will learn not to mess with our cultura. You can't keep us in a box!