NYC may get a vegan grocery store! Help make it a reality!  »

As you may have heard, New York City is mighty close to having its very own vegan convenience store. The brainchild of Eric Hopf, Vegan Bodega is currently in its early stages of development, with an IndieGoGo page up for community fundraising and awareness.┬áVegan Bodega plans to carry everything a vegan could need—healthy food items, vegan junk food, household products, vegan condoms, baby food, beer—imagine not having to read a label! Finally, a real one-stop-shopping experience right here in the Big Apple.

I talked to Eric about the project and how we can help bring it to life!

Vegansaurus: Tell us about Vegan Bodega. What inspired the idea?
Eric Hopf: Like many other vegans, I traveled to the Pacific Northwest with my partner Gita and we saw Food Fight Grocery and Sidecar For Pigs Peace. I remember thinking, “This is fantastic, we should have something like this in NYC.” Once I returned home, I went back to working in photography and didn’t think about it again until a year ago. The arrival of my daughter was close at hand and I was well overdue for a visit to Orlando, Fla., to see my family; I went down for a long weekend, and that was where the idea came from, that this all-vegan convenience store could be something real. There is a small shop near downtown Orlando that I happened upon [called] Artichoke Red, it’s all-vegan and it’s succeeding. The owner was nice enough to talk with me and answer some of my questions. Again I asked myself: Why doesn’t New York City have something like this? Once I arrived home I started thinking about an all-vegan grocery store and shared my idea with Gita. It was going to be a huge undertaking and very expensive. We scaled back the concept. The name came naturally, as there is nowhere in NYC I can think of without a corner store or “bodega,” as we have all become used to calling them. So the inspiration came partially from other business and from my family who support this dream.

How long have you been vegan? Is your family vegan as well?
Actually I don’t keep track of the length of time, but I know I have been vegan for at least six years now, and both Gita and our daughter are vegan.

Tell us about your IndieGoGo project.
After seeing a few vegan projects make their goals on IndieGoGo and Kickstarter, we thought that it would be an excellent way to raise a portion of the funds we need for opening the business. Crowd-sourcing would also get the vegan community involved with launching a store that so many have told us they have been wishing for. Our goal is to raise $15,000, but we are less than a week and a half from the deadline and are only around 23 percent of the way there. Any contribution is helpful and we are very thankful for anything we get. There are a variety of incentives for donations of $5 and up. The money will be used to secure the location, buy used shelves, a commercial freezer and fridge, the computer setup for handling sales/inventory, and some stock for the soft opening. The store will have a slicer and deli display, but we may need to introduce those after the opening.

Where do you think Vegan Bodega will be located?
We are going to open in Manhattan, most likely on the Lower East Side, as we really like the feel there, [and it’s] close to other vegan spots and lots of public transportation. We are willing to reconsider the location if we find a fantastic space.

What products and/or services will you offer at Vegan Bodega? Will you deliver? What about online ordering?
The plan for Vegan Bodega is to carry a broad spectrum of products, from healthy items to vegan junk food. [We want] to support other local vegan businesses by offering them a space to sell their goods, a focused vegan and vegetarian customer base, and a chance to connect with customers by doing in-store samplings. We are also contacting Community-Supported Agriculture farmers about being a drop-off point. Delivery is something we are looking into and how best we can offer it. Online ordering may be offered in the future, but it is dependent on the demand for it.

What is your planned opening date, and are you organizing an event for the big day?
We do not have one set yet. Currently our focus is on securing a space and locking down all the funding we need. In the meantime, you may soon find us at a weekend food market, as a prelude to what will be available in the store, but that has yet to be finalized. We intend to do a soft opening and get settled in, then have a grand opening party that will also double as a fundraiser for a to-be-determined animal welfare group. Vegan Bodega would also like to support different nonprofits by allocating a portion of the sales once a month.

We’re pretty excited about this project! If you want to help Vegan Bodega reach their fundraising goal, you only have FOUR MORE DAYS to pitch in at their IndieGoGo page. If you don’t have cash to spare, spread the word and show your love by contacting the Vegan Bodega family. The anticipation is killing us!

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