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The "reinvention" of vending machines

A fully-stocked Bodega pantry for an apartment. Photo: Bodega

Two ex-Googlers are creating a commotion with a Plain Jane re-contemplation of the standard issue vending machine.

Ashwath Rajan and Paul McDonald are promoting the installation of small shops in the lobbies of dorms, offices and apartments, stocking them with typical convenience store items, and allowing payment with a mobile app (photo above). No advance there. But social media is erupting with outrage at the threat to the traditional corner store.

What's the big deal? The venture, which Rajan and McDonald call Bodega, invents precisely nothing: Percival Everitt conceived of the vending machine in 1883. Lobby pantries go back to Shakespeare and before. Throughout, immigrants and others have opened and run their convenience stores. Relax, folks.