New York City bodegas and delis are fighting back against 15-minute delivery startups. A group representing local grocers, the Save Mom-and-Pop Business Coalition, rallied on Sunday with elected officials, calling out the venture capitalist-backed services they say threaten the city’s small businesses. The rally took place outside of Stop 1 Deli, a Lower East Side bodega located directly across the street from GoPuff, one of the delivery services in question. Delivery services like GoPuff have moved into large spaces on commercial strips, morphing them into warehouses stuffed with groceries and other goods.
Deemed as essential by the state, bodegas in New York City are open during the coronavirus outbreak. For those craving a bacon, egg, and cheese from your local deli, but can’t leave your apartment, a new app is here to help. As first reported by Eater, My Bodega Online is looking to give New Yorkers another option when it comes to ordering take-out and groceries for delivery, while simultaneously supporting local businesses.
Image: Clover Grocery via Facebook.
There was a time not too long ago when New Yorkers began to resent the apparent gentrification of local bodegas, which had begun carrying high-priced, healthy food items sought by new neighborhood residents. Chain convenience stores like 7-11 were yet another blow to the concept of the quirky corner deli. And then, of course, there was the Whole Foods effect. The latest development in the ascent of the local grocery store is even more difficult to grok: The “wellness bodega” has arrived. As Eater reports, mini-markets–like Clover Grocery in Manhattan’s West Village–in metro areas like NYC and LA are stocking items like $18 “vegan friendly” condoms and marine collagen supplements–and confusing the daylights out of ordinary city folk.
Image via Bodega
The loss of small businesses throughout cities nationwide is already an escalating issue to rising rents and online delivery platforms, but more and more new physical business models are also looking to edge out mom-and-pops and brick-and-mortar retail establishments in general. Take for example a new startup called Bodega, which, you guessed it, wants to replace your actual bodega (they’ve even made their logo a “bodega cat”). Started by two former Google employees, the concept puts unmanned pantries in offices, gyms, dorms, or apartment buildings and stocks them with convenience store staples like non-perishable snacks and beverages, toiletries, cleaning supplies, and even fitness equipment, using a special computer vision system to track purchases (h/t Fast Company).
Yesterday we asked the question, “Are the city’s bodegas becoming a thing of the past?” As we noted, “many of these tiny shops have been scrambling to stay in business. The city’s roughly 12,000 bodegas are losing customers.” According to the Times, 75 have already shuttered this year. Typically, we pin this on rising rents and the influx of chain stores, but another likely culprit could be New Yorkers’ changing habits and needs. Many of us are buying more health foods and fresh produce and less of the packaged goods and cigarettes that bodegas often offer. To test this theory, we want to know your retail habits.
The Times highlights the plight of the city’s iconic local bodegas, tiny grocery-slash-beer-slash-whatever-the-local-patrons-need shops that have long been a colorful cornerstone of everyday life in the city’s neighborhoods. Photographer Gail Victoria Braddock Quagliata even spent nine months pounding the pavements of Manhattan in a quest to photograph every single one of its bodegas.
But many of these tiny shops have been scrambling to stay in business. The city’s roughly 12,000 bodegas are losing customers. About 75 have closed this year according to the Times, many in uptown neighborhoods like Inwood, Washington Heights and Harlem. Though that proportion is small, many shop owners are concerned.