Photo courtesy of Bodega

Fast Company has a profile out today on how two Google veterans want to make neighborhood convenience stores, or bodegas, a thing of the past.

  • How it works: "Bodega" sets up five-foot-wide "pantry boxes" — filled with non-perishable items and household goods — in places like offices, apartments, and college campuses. Customers unlock the pantry via an app, and cameras then register what's been removed before charging their credit card.
  • The controversy: The founders are calling their automated bodegas a "relevant slice of a store." Meanwhile, critics are bashing them online as glorified vending machines.

Long-term implications: Co-founder Paul McDonald told Fast Company he hopes Bodega will eliminate the need for brick-and-mortar convenience stores. Not only does that concept instill fear in local mom-and-pop shop owners, it could cause problems for those, particularly in low-income areas, who rely on those businesses for daily necessities.

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