Bodegas are a distinctly — and initially perplexing — New York City phenomenon, as tourists and transplants to the city know. These local grocery stores are supermarkets and neighborhood hangouts, and they have more in common than just cereal. So, for all of you non-New Yorkers (and locals who don’t get it), here’s a definitive answer to the question, “What is a bodega? Why New Yorker Love Bodega so much?”
The History of New York City’s Bodegas
Since these shops first began showing up in Hispanic communities in the 1940s and 1950s, the term bodega comes from a Spanish word that can mean “storeroom,” “wine cellar,” or “grocery store.” The majority of them built by Puerto Ricans, and sometimes other the Caribbean and Latin American immigrants arrived in large numbers in New York after WWII (World War II). It sought a more local convenience store to visit daily. New Yorkers as a whole embraced the concept, and the small shops grew in number. While the owners are no longer solely Latino, the name has stuck.
What is a Bodega, Exactly?
A bodega is a mini markets shop that sells everyday things such as coffee, chips, sodas, sweets, over-the-counter medications, cigarettes, bodega cats, lottery tickets, and household items such as laundry detergent, toilet paper, and garbage bags. Some have a deli counter, some sell beer, and some don’t, but what makes them unique is more than just one product.
Most are open 24 hours a day, meaning that you can get ramen and detergent even in the most desperate of conditions (for example, if you’re doing laundry in the middle of the night while hungry). With over 10,000 bodegas distributed across New York’s five boroughs, they’re almost ubiquitous. This combination means that if you need anything after a night out, you can head to your nearest Bodega at 4 a.m. Many bodegas, as all New Yorkers are aware, even have cats. While some consumers hate them, bodega cats serve a greater purpose: eradicating rats, whose presence (trust us) is less friendly than even the ugliest feline.
What Things Should You Know About Bodega?
Many of them have a credit card minimum, so carry cash, or you’ll end up doubling up on ice cream and cookie dough, which isn’t always a bad thing, but it’s something to keep in mind. You don’t believe that any of these establishments sell beer; some only sell soft drinks and juices. Fortunately, there’s usually another bodega down the street that has what you’re searching for. If you’re new at the place and need help locating an electrician or handyman, consider consulting your neighborhood bodega. As previously stated, they will also assist with package delivery, and their local knowledge can go far beyond what you would anticipate.
Bodega in the Future
While bodegas are a New York institution, that doesn’t mean they’re doing well; in fact, the opposite is true. Owing to – rents and chain store rivalry, several small businesses have been forced to close in recent years. Recently, two ex-Google employees launched “Bodega,” a startup app that sells grocery store products from automated boxes. Many people were outraged, accusing the team of appropriating the bodega name and attempting to bring these small businesses out of business. After all, locals enjoy these shops; they’re an essential part of the New York neighborhood landscape, and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon, considering the obstacles and rivalry they face. So, where did the app go? It was renamed Stock well.
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The idea that bodegas are neighborhood landmarks is probably the most difficult for tourists to comprehend. Locals also recognize the owners and staff. They may rely on these businesses — which, again, are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The reason is to receive deliveries and keep keys for visitors in the absence of a doorman. Many of these store owners are willing to assist, and it’s traditional to pay a small thank-you fee for any operation that isn’t strictly bodega-related.