In New York City, locals call corner shops ‘bodegas’ thanks to the city’s historic hispanic communities. They’re pretty much the same as the corner shops that grace Britain’s streets, in that they sell a wide variety of essential items and a pleasing amount of tat.
And just like the UK, these shops are often immigrant owned and beloved community hubs. This is why there was so much anger when one particular news report from Silicon Valley emerged the other week. To add to the long history of tech bros taking a good thing everyone loves and attempting to replace it with a dumb thing everyone hates, two former Google employees announced they were working on a fancy vending machine that would mean bodegas wouldn’t be ‘necessary’ in the future.
The implication was clear: these machines would not only do away with independent businesses, but eliminate a space where you can interact with people in your neighbourhood. Naturally, New Yorkers were not happy. But there was more. The vending machine’s logo was a cat, due to the fact that real bodegas usually have a resident kitty lounging among the produce.
Like you, we love cats. As do many, many people. Including a Brooklyn resident called Rob Hitt, who runs an Instagram account called @bodegacatsofinstagram. It posts photos that followers send to Rob of cats in their bodegas. We love it.
Also, looooooool (sorry Page).
Not that we want to get too deep with it (lol, we do), but Bodega Cats of Instagram is about so much more than adorable felines. It represents diverse communities, immigrant success stories and the survival of independent businesses in a world of relentless corporate growth.
Most of all, it champions a space where people can interact, make conversation, swap jokes and exist in the real world. This is how communities put their differences aside and actually learn stuff about one another, ensuring neighbourhoods become cohesive, safe things. No vending machine can do that.
The fact there’s a cat there is a real bonus.
Go and follow @bodegacatsofinstagram now.