Ashley Ren

Bodega’s Dream

We are a nonprofit consulting agency providing services to NYC deli owners. Through the implementation of strategic planning our goal is to keep stores open and dreams alive.

For 8 years, my parents were proud owners of a grocery store that served our community. Their business grew to be a cultural pillar by becoming a space filled with familiar faces. Bodegas act as the staple in the neighborhoods they serve, a hub of social interaction. In 2018, my parents encountered the very problem that many bodegas face in NYC. With the mass gentrification of low income, communities of color, landlords try to keep up by increasing rent. Many bodegas struggle to stay in business and continue serving the neighborhood they’ve often served for over decades. This led me to explore the framework of ‘how might we support NYC bodegas to keep them in business.’ As a nonprofit, Bodega’s Dream aims to sustain and expand the business of NYC’s bodegas. By offering free consulting services surrounding strategic planning, design tools, and educational services, Bodega’s Dream works to revamp the business plan of traditional bodegas to keep up with changing times. We aim to guide bodegas in highlighting their economic and social value while preserving the core of what they represent in NYC’s landscape.

Challenge

Gentrification and rent inflation is an universal problem with many complexities that are difficult to tackle. From filming a documentary, writing a legislation, to stabilising rent, I went back and forth brainstorming potential solutions. Unfortunately, these realistic solutions will take longer than one semester to complete. Instead, I decided to pivot my focus to research what tools bodega owners need in their industry to help them succeed.

Outcome

By shadowing bodegas and conducting interviews, I was able to better empathise and understand how bodegas operated and how to preserve their original culture. This led me to come up with different services that can be helpful for deli owners such as an aggregated educational platform, customer service hotline, and integrated delivery services. These ideas formalised into a nonprofit consulting agency that strategically caters to individual NYC bodegas and their needs.

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