Are there lessons for the convenience-store industry or for those who might try to disrupt it in the almost universal denunciation of the Bodega pantry-box concept and the passionate defense of the common corner store on social media?
Whether Bodega is, in fact, a threat to genuine bodegas or c-stores, its launch became a viral distress call to help out what many people see as a venerable—and vulnerable—retail channel in need of preservation.
The industry continues to be dominated by single-store operators, according to NACS. While the best chain c-stores clearly have their place in the hearts of consumers because of their success at delivering what their devoted fans want or their skill at service and rewards, cookie-cutter stores with standardized product mixes and menus don’t generally inspire the same level of passion and loyalty as bodegas in a big city or mom-and-pop convenience stores anywhere in America.
No matter how successful e-commerce is at capturing a certain segment of the population, it appears that most people still want and expect local community interaction and brick-and-mortar commerce as part of their daily lives.
“Real bodegas are all about human relationships within a community, having someone you know greet you and make the sandwich you like,” Garcia told Fast Company.
“Largely immigrant-owned, [bodegas] are the ultimate frills-free symbol of consumer access and gritty mini-embodiments of both the city’s diversity and its 24/7 ethos,” said the New York Times. “In addition to their convenience, what makes bodegas beloved are their personalities. It seems like every one of them is oddly curated: prayer candles sit next to jarred olives, which are sidled up next to boxes of organic mac and cheese. There is no Silicon Valley algorithm clever enough to come up with those crumbly, shrink-wrapped date bars that are inevitably piled up by the cash registers.”