The next retail revolution? Luxury bodegas

Even WeWork is making a move on neighborhood haunts

WeWork's Adam Neumann (Photo illustration by Lexi Pilgrim for The Real Deal)
WeWork's Adam Neumann (Photo illustration by Lexi Pilgrim for The Real Deal)

The most recent attempt to disrupt the beloved neighborhood institution of the bodega opened in Greenwich Village late last month.

Named “Bonberi Bodega,” the new store is filled with vegan products including homemade baked goods, organic juice and pre-made meals like quinoa bibimbap, according to SecretNYC.

It’s not the first time a “luxury bodega” has set up shop and the concept has invited its share of controversy.

In one case, a startup literally known as “Bodega,” which planned to replace corner stores with high-tech vending machines, rebranded as Stockwell following backlash on social media.

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But that’s not slowing down retailers. Even WeWork is planning to get in on the bodega game with the co-working giant’s long-anticipated push into retail starting with luxury mini-stores.

The company plans to open 500 WeMRKTs across the U.S. in the next few years, following in the spiritual footsteps of other wellness retail pioneers, such as Clover Grocery and Bonberi, which both opened in the West Village last September, or LA’s Moon Juice, which launched in Venice six years ago. The first WeMRKT store opened over the summer at 205 Hudson Street.

WeWork hopes these new retail spaces will help improve the productivity of its members. As WeWork’s Chief Brand Officer Julie Rice told The New Yorker, “Every time our members have to leave the building, it’s another thirty minutes out of their day.” [The New Yorker, Eater, SecretNYC] — Kevin Sun