Quick-commerce grocery delivery services — JOKR, Gorillas and Fridge No More — have become part of the fabric of life in New York City, with more and more of the city’s nine million residents turning to fast, convenient delivery instead of heading to one of the more than 10,000 bodegas on neighborhood corners.
While the app-based delivery services were a lifeline to households locked down during the pandemic, bodegas are witnessing a continuing reliance on smartphone-based ordering via specialty apps, which promise super-fast delivery at lower prices.
NYC-based small businesses are concerned that thousands of bodegas will be forced to shutter as new grocery delivery apps keep arriving on the scene, according to a CBS report on Tuesday (Nov. 23).
Founder and head of the Bodega and Small Business Group — which represents 2,000 bodegas across the city — Francisco Marte has operated his bodega in the same Bronx neighborhood for 20 years and is part of the fabric that makes up the community.
“We’re from the community. We’ve been serving the community in the worst times, so we deserve to be protected,” Marte said.
After struggling to hang on through the pandemic, Marte said that now many mom-and-pop shops are being hammered by delivery apps promising 15 delivery of groceries.
Marte said he is concerned that the apps will do to bodegas what rideshares did to yellow cabs.
“We cannot compete with them,” Marte said.
The apps largely work out of fulfillment centers dotted around the city that are generally not open to the public.
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In the past six months, the delivery app Gorillas opened 13 locations in four boroughs, with Gorillas’ head of operations Adam Wacenske stating that company is “hyper-focused on New York.”
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said the app delivery services were “definitely market disruptors.”
Brewer pressed several city agencies in October to regulate the new businesses, questioning if zoning allowed for food fulfillment warehouses in retail locations.
“If they’re not legal they must be evicted and the city must come in and say you’re not welcome here,” Brewer said.
In the meantime, however, bodega owners have requested that City Hall help them adopt the same delivery tech the apps use.
“We need that type of funding to help us so we can access the technologies,” Marte said.