Can vending machines replace bodegas?

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A couple of ex-Google employees have launched an app-only accessible pantry full of sundries, snacks, and items you may be able to find in a bodega or corner store, and are calling it “bodega.”

Bodegas often serve as small, familiar convenience stores with access to non-perishables, detergent, and fresh-made sandwiches – necessities for downtown dwellers without access to big box stores – and are a stage human-to-human interactions that make them ideal Third Places. Co-owner and CEO of the company, Paul McDonald, stated on the company blog that he hopes their new service won’t take away business from others, but rather implant it where “commerce currently doesn’t exist.”

The eight SF box requires no human interaction and can simply be plugged in and left for app-users to come and go as they please by signing in with their phones, to be restocked later. The boxes have tiny cameras the company calls “Computer Vision Systems” that recognize the items you take and bills you accordingly – click HERE to see a demonstration.

Each Bodega will be tailored to its individual location and sell items that best suit the customers in the area it would be servicing; workout gear in a gym or electronics and school supplies at a college.

Bodega (Website) has currently installed their boxes in 30 locations in the San Francisco Bay area and has over $2.5 million in funding so far. They plan to expand to more than 1,000 locations by the end of next year.

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