Day 236: Brodega

Populist uprisings can be hit or miss. They can peacefully transition countries to representative governments where oligarchy’s once stood or install a racist wannabe despot in a position of power.

Sometimes, they go against corporations. Sometimes its too late to stop the financial carnage of consumers, like with the Fyre Festival. But not always.

Bodega, yes that is the actual name of the company, is aiming to “disrupt” the “mom and pop corner store market” with their new start up. They will be disrupting this market by installing what can best be described as a “smart cabinet” in locations around the United States.

This is not only a step down in service compared to an actual bodega, it’s a slap in the face to the store owners who have immigrated to the United States and the patrons who support their businesses not just for the convenience and offerings, but the relationships they build with the store owners.

I lived in Baltimore for a few months a few years ago. Up the block from my apartment was a bodega. The owner was an immigrant from Egypt and worked the store with his two sons. He was an awesome guy, not only taking the time to learn my customary sandwich selection but also chatting with me about his life and mine. I live in Hyattsville now, but I still enjoy supporting my local businesses and getting to know the owners. At my dry cleaners, I’ve been lucky enough to meet three generations of a family and get to know their stories. The vast majority of these businesses are immigrant and minority owned.

Silicon Valley may mechanize processes that were once time consuming and obtrusive, but the heart of these conveniences is dark. Want to have an easy way to reconnect with old friends? Give us all of your personal information so we can sell it in ten different ways and we’ll make it happen. Want to be able to get a ride anywhere, anytime? Go hitchhiking, but with apps instead of thumbs. Want to write about your favorite sports team? You can be a pro, and we’ll pay you pennies on the dollar while we make billions.

These hucksters won’t go anywhere without the outrage that we saw with the bodegas today and the economic wear withal to take our dollars elsewhere.

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