Boomshack Bodega Aims to Bring New York Style to Minnesota

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Boomshack Bodega Aims to Bring New York Style to Minnesota

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ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Twin Cities is getting its first taste of a New York-style bodega.

Located at 237 W. Seventh Street in St. Paul, Boomshack Bodega is a convenience store featuring a mini indoor café that serves up fresh food made daily, like BBQ sandwiches, burritos and Asian wraps.

Other features of Boomshack Bodega include: locally sourced produce delivered every other day; hot food made on-site; the self-serve "Boom It Up Bar," a condiment station featuring relish, sauces, pickles and side items like coleslaw; and real silverware for dine-in customers.

According to owner Trisha McGovern, Boomshack Bodega serves as an observation lab for her and her team. Since the c-store's opening six months ago, the team has been collecting data as well as direct customer feedback.

"Simply put, we have an evolving list of items customers want and we ask them every day what they would like. We review our inventory to match it, look at trends reports and spend a lot of time on the phone with suppliers that fit our model," said McGovern. "Boomshack Bodega is all about the extra mile we go for our customer.

"It's an interesting microcosm of Saint Paul on West Seventh that includes nearby apartment residents, hospital employees and visitors, along with everyday workers and hotel and event center traffic. As a native Saint Paulite, this location felt right for my first foray into this new bodega business," she added.

For Boomshack, McGovern added touches of playfulness and fun throughout the store. A selfie station in a corner of the café area has steadily grown in popularity due to the iconic American movie posters hand-picked by McGovern to highlight film images and cultural themes of the 1970s, '80s and '90s. Customers can add Post-it notes to a communal bulletin board under the banner "Tell us what you want," where answers range from menu ideas to "sleep" and "a husband who golfs rather than hunts."

"I want Boomshack to be that welcoming neighborhood spot where residents and visitors alike can meet up, grab items to go, or simply sit and linger in the café," the owner expressed.

Although McGovern is new to bodegas, her history is rooted in foodservice. Her mother owned one of the original Dairy Queens on Raymond Avenue in St. Anthony Park, Minn., where McGovern worked as a young teenager. "My mother taught me everything I know about quick-serve customer service, and turning out a consistently good product," McGovern reflected.

The Boomshack owner then waitressed during her college years a few doors down from Boomshack at Patrick McGovern's, an Irish pub on West Seventh, opened by her late brother and his business partner. McGovern went on to gain additional industry experience working in business development at Periscope, and owning her own dot-com business, Mr. Wolf, from the late '90s until 2007, with clients such as Target, 3M, Best Buy and Cargill.

Inspired by c-stores in Korea and Japan, McGovern burrowed through 16 months of research before launching Boomshack. She also studied bodegas brought to popularity in New York City by Puerto Rican immigrants.

"The c-stores in these countries serve as strong cultural connectors, delivering a big experience in a small space, with entertaining YouTube videos to prove it," she explained. "I would compare it to the experience Americans have with their favorite coffee shop chain."

When it came time to brand her bodega, McGovern went to the "leaders in the pack" for c-stores and hired a marketing firm in Seoul, Korea, to create her logo design. "I sent them my creative brief and they understood it right away; hence, our peaking sunshine out of 'boom,'" said McGovern.

As winter approaches, McGovern will focus her sights on upcoming sporting events and concerts at the Xcel Energy Center. "With the Wild season just underway, we are set to have a series of fan-fun events along with all of our bodega hot food and window service for the hurried crowd," she said, adding that she has also invested in her own private label products like water and packaged snacks under the Boomshack label.