NJ Bodega Money - My9 New Jersey

NJ Bodega Money

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Paterson, New Jersey (My9NJ) -

Bodegas are essentially corner stores mostly found in urban areas. They are essential to many communities because they are open late, they aren't afraid of dangerous neighborhoods, and some even lend credit!

Jose Fernandez is the President of the Bodega Federation, who says that for some communities, bodegas are the only form of banking. He says, "By giving them credit without charging a higher price, we don’t charge interest rate, we just wait for the payment for them to pay us at the end of the week." He says that bodegas offer an indispensable service to communities that don't have access to traditional banks and who are having trouble making ends meet at the end of the month.

Many of New Jersey's cities have areas called "food deserts," where access to healthy inexpensive food is difficult to find. Areas, like Newark, Jersey City, Asbury Park, and East Orange, all rely heavily on bodegas and corner stores, because grocery stores haven't moved into their neighborhoods.

At first glance, this seems like an exceptional addition to the community, but that may not be the case. Researcher Hanaa Hamdi, from University Of Dentistry and Medicine of New Jersey, explains her findings from a study conducted in Newark's South Ward. She says Bodega’s price gauging is actually the problem behind the credit lending scheme. Her study found that bodegas and urban stores charged 40% more at the beginning of the month when neighborhood residents receive their wage checks and/or food stamps.

Dr. Hamdi says, "So they run out of money, then the grocers will extend credit, and the credit comes with an interest- so not only are they paying for the 40% increase, but there is also interest attached to it.“

Mr. Fernandez explained why prices fluctuate during the month. He said that some products come with prices on the labels and those prices don't change; however, “most companies don’t do that, they give a price and then we have to deal with the changing of the price.” All-in-all they are "not much more expensive than grocery stores.”

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