The New Convenience Store?

Elizabeth Segran:

Bodega sets up five-foot-wide pantry boxes filled with non-perishable items you might pick up at a convenience store. An app will allow you to unlock the box and cameras powered with computer vision will register what you’ve picked up, automatically charging your credit card. The entire process happens without a person actually manning the “store.”

Bodega’s logo is a cat, a nod to the popular bodega cat meme on social media–although if the duo gets their way, real felines won’t have brick-and-mortar shops to saunter around and take naps in much longer. “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.”

Segran makes the excellent point through her reporting that these ‘bodegas’ will lack human curation, that persons of Latin descent don’t necessarily appreciate a pair of ex-Google employees trying to appropriate a Latino phrase, and that small business owners aren’t excited about the prospect of losing their businesses and livelihoods.

Beyond those points, there is another issue that the company is going to require credit cards to do anything. What happens when you’re a member of a population that generally doesn’t have access to credit? What happens when you prefer cash? What happens when your credit card is frozen for whatever reason?

(It’s worth noting, of course, that this proposal isn’t nearly as shocking when looking at other countries like Japan which have embraced vending machine culture for a very, very long time.)

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