Can there only be one Bodega?
A startup founded by two former Google employees is not only getting hate nationwide over its premise — it’s also getting criticism from a popular Boston shop that shares its name.
The explosion in disapproval started after a feature was published in Fast Company about a venture called Bodega, which was launched Wednesday. The new business premise essentially amounts to a fancy, app-controlled vending machine for convenience store items. The Bodega app allows users to unlock the pantry box, while cameras inside the box recognize what you take and charge your credit card accordingly.
One store that didn’t take kindly to the new startup? Bodega — a beloved Back Bay sneaker speakeasy, if you will, which features a hidden entrance within a convenience store on Clearwater Street.
In a tweet sent Wednesday afternoon, those who run the Boston-based Bodega had a few cheeky suggestions on how the ex-Google workers could rename their business.
The Back Bay shop also went on a bit of a tweetstorm against the new venture — especially since it appears some have gotten the two mixed up.
2/4: We pride ourselves on 11+ years of ethical business, and more importantly community-involvement and support. We are strong proponents— BODEGA (@bdgastore) September 13, 2017
3/4: of small business, community activism and the arts. We are disheartened that there is an unfortunate coincidence in the naming of— BODEGA (@bdgastore) September 13, 2017
4/4: bodega.ai, especially since they seek to replace the small businesses that are mainstays of our communities.— BODEGA (@bdgastore) September 13, 2017
The Boston store isn’t the only voice criticizing the app for its name. In fact, so many people took to Twitter to express their outrage, “Bodega” became a national trending topic by Wednesday night.
Dear Bodega Cats,— Morgan Jerkins (@MorganJerkins) September 13, 2017
Now's the time to start the revolution.
Corner stores provide much more than goods: safe havens for children, community for retirees, a neighborhood chatroom IRL. Let's keep them!— reliabletranslations (@reliabletran) September 13, 2017
"Look at all these minorities and families working hard to build something that we could just take if you fund us." - the Bodega VC pitch— Robert McNees (@mcnees) September 13, 2017
The backlash to the terrible fake bodega startup is Media Twitter's first truly good pile-on ever and I hope it lasts all day.— Alex Koppelman (@AlexKoppelman) September 13, 2017
The new venture’s founders posted a blog entry Wednesday addressing the backlash, noting that the company’s name “sparked a wave of criticism on social media far beyond what we ever imagined.” The founders said they were not trying to put corner stores out of business and originally chose the name “Bodega” because it is culturally synonymous with “convenience and ubiquity.” (The company said it had even conducted a survey early on to see if the name caused any offense, “but it’s clear that we may not have been asking the right questions of the right people.”)