For reasons unknown, some people apparently hate charm. And there's nothing quite like the charm and unmistakable homeliness of your favorite bodega. Why the fuck would anyone mess with that? As detailed in a new Fast Company piece on a startup confusingly named Bodega, two Google veterans are rolling out so-called "pantry boxes" that aim to make corner stores completely unnecessary.
"The vision here is much bigger than the box itself," Paul McDonald, a former Google product manager, said Wednesday. McDonald started Bodega, which rolls out 50 new locations on the West Coast on Wednesday, with fellow former Googler Ashwath Rajan. "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," McDonald added.
The 5-foot-wide Bodega boxes will be stocked with non-perishable items one might typically find at a convenience shop. The variety of the stock will be based on data collected through machine learning, ensuring the most-needed items in a particular area are available. To make a purchase, customers use an app to open the box before cameras register your selection and automatically charge your card.
By the end of next year, McDonald aims to have more than a thousand of these boxes installed in apartments, gyms, and elsewhere. The startup's potential impact on the actual bodega industry, however, has many questioning the necessity of such an invention while defending their neighborhood bodegas:
Also, to be blunt, this pantry box thing kinda looks like a glorified snack machine.