Retail Embraces Bodega Nostalgia
Bodegas – small, mini-mart-style convenience stores – are becoming cultural touchstones for American consumers weary of impersonal big-box grocery stores. Their popularity across social media and pop culture is spurring other kinds of retailers – from hospitality to fashion – to embrace bodega-inspired stores that promote social connections and only-in-person surprises.
- The New Social (Activism) Spot: Leveraging the bodega’s community-centred appeal, new convenience retailers are emphasising social opportunities over grab-and-go snacks. At The Goods Mart, which has locations in both LA and NY (see The Brief), customers can donate tips to a different charity each month or participate in weekend volunteer programmes alongside store staff.
- Local Indulgence: More personally indulgent for informal get-togethers, New Yorkers can head to The Little Shop, where a bar serving everything from turmeric-mezcal cocktails and vegetable empanadas hides behind snack-packed shelves.
Both formats illustrate the clubhouse-style shops we highlight in Brand Spaces 20/21 that are redefining the notion of community.
- Fashion’s Bodega Art Flex: During Miami Art Week 2019, Italian fashion brand Diesel partnered with Boston/LA streetwear brand Bodega for a pop-up that hid garments behind a fake deli façade – a format that Bodega famously employs at its Boston flagship. Dubbed the Unofficial Art Basel Miami Gift Shop, visitors could purchase limited-edition collaborations from both brands, as well as zines, packaged foods and Art Basel Miami-themed souvenirs. This hybrid format plays into Gen Z’s appreciation for irony, limited-edition product drops and high-low mash-ups – themes we delve into in Making Scenes, part of our Dynamic Youth: Gen Z Spotlight Trend.
- Hidden Upscale Convenience: Fashion’s bodega appreciation isn’t entirely youth specific. At upscale German fashion brand Marcell von Berlin’s LA boutique, a pseudo-newsstand greets shoppers who must push away thick velvet curtains to reach the main retail area. The false front gives shoppers the feeling of entering a secret club, acting as a literal gourmet gateway concept, referencing one of the strategies we outline in Retail: Experiential Luxe.