Created By: ImStillAwesome on December 31, 2011 Last Edited By: m8e on January 2, 2013

StrangelySmallStaff

There is only one or two employees, and one of them is the owner.

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Trope
Fictional businesses have much smaller staffs than their operations and working hours suggest/require. These generally come to one or two employees who are manning the place, no matter when we see it. They are presumably the ones doing all the work, even if this seems completely impractical or impossible. Consider that even a simple business like a gas station needs managing, stocking and shelving, cleaning and enough cashiers to man the register 7 days a week (possibly 24 hours a day). This is even true of larger businesses like We Sell Everything Stores or large restaurants, where the small staff may clash with the apparent size and scope of the business. This can also be rather strange when the place is packed with way more clients than the small staff should be able to cater to.

Sometimes a result of having an Economy Cast.

Related to Always on Duty, Covert Group with Mundane Front, Oddly Small Organization, and The Law of Conservation of Detail.

Needs a rewrite, Do We Have This?, Rolling Updates

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • The yellow flag bar in Black Lagoon. The only one seen working there is the owner Bao.

Film-LiveAction
  • The Quick Stop in The Viewaskew Niverse is always manned by Dante. We know he has a boss and there's at least another employee working there (He's got the flu during the events of Clerks. but whenever we see the store, Dante is there alone.)
  • Star Wars:
    • The Mos Eisley Cantina in A New Hope has one dude manning the bar. And the place is packed, poor guy must be tired come the end of the day. A
    • Watto's scrap yard in The Phantom Menace seems to manned solely by him and young Anakin (who is 8). Most of the droids he has seem solely for sale.
    • Dex' Diner in Attack of the Clones is run by Dex (who is the cook) and one waitress droid. Similarly to the Cantina, the place is full.
Literature
  • In the children's book Clarene Goes to Town Clarence (a dog) and his owners find a small French restaurant which is run by the owner, who has a chef.
Live-Action TV
  • The Juice Bar in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers was run by Ernie alone, despite seeming to be the sole place the youths of Angel Grove would gather.
  • In The Brady Bunch Marcia gets a job in an ice cream store, which ups the staff to two (including the owner). Then she gets Peter a job there, and the owner takes an afternoon off for the first time ever.
  • In seasons 1 & 2 of Chuck Sarah is the only employee seen at the Wiener Schitzel store (later Orange Orange). Could be justified in that it's possible it's a CIA front organization, but the impression one gets is that she just applied for a job there.
  • There are two employees at The Pie Hole at the start of Pushing Daisies: Ned, the owner and baker, and Olive, the waitress.
  • The titular shop from Black Books has two members of staff.

Theatre
  • In the musical Bells Are Ringing, the commercial for Susanswerphone that opens the show boasts of a "vast personnel of well-trained girls." The scene immediately changes to their office, where we see the owner and one of her two answering-service girls.

Web Animation

Western Animation
  • Fanboy and Chum Chum have a slush store/corner store staffed by two people. Strangely, they seem to work the same shift.
  • In Arthur, the Sugar Bowl seems to be staffed only by the old man who owns it. This may be justified, as its entire customer base seems to be the main group of kids.
  • Bosco's Inconvenience is staffed solely by Bosco and his multiple identities. Sybil is also the only person working at her store, whatever it is this week.
  • The Krusty Krab in SpongeBob SquarePants has only Squidward as cashier and SpongeBob on the grill and serving (although Squidward is ocassionally seen serving as well).
  • Bob's Burgers: the only staff in the restaurant are Bob's family: he cooks, his wife is the cashier, his older daughter is the waitress and his son wears a goofy suit out front trying to drum up business. His younger daughter is also around but I don't know if she has an official job.
  • Most business with the Squeaky Voiced Teen as employee on The Simpsons have him as the sole employee seen. Like the very successful Krusty Burger (to compare, most McDonald's run on 3 people during the dead hours and can have over a dozen during rush hours) or the Aztec Theater and the Springfield Googolplex Theatres.
    • Jeffrey "Jeff" Albertson AKA Comic Book Guy is the sole person running The Android's Dungeon. It's worth noting that that for a comic book store, this is not really that unusual.
    • Apu from The Simpsons seems to be the only employee ever seen at the Quickee Mart.
    • Also included is the short time Homer worked nights there.
    • Moe's Tavern has only one employee: Moe. Except the one episode when it was a popular bar when he had a part-time waitress.
      • When it was turned into a family restaurant there were only three employees.
  • Margaret and Eileen seem to be the only employees at the coffee shop in Regular Show. If they have a boss, he hasn't appeared yet.


Community Feedback Replies: 31
  • December 31, 2011
    TonyG
    The Krusty Krab in SpongeBob SquarePants has only Squidward as cashier and SpongeBob on the grill and serving (although Squidward is ocassionally seen serving as well).
  • December 31, 2011
    dalek955
    In video game Thriving Ghost Towns, usually each business is run by a single on-screen character.
  • December 31, 2011
    aznemesis
    In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the Magic Box always has a single owner as the only employee. This enables them to be caught alone and killed by some evil-doer. After Giles buys the shop, the number is upped to two, as he and Anya are the only full-time staff. The other Scoobies do help out from time to time, but they are not regular employees.
  • December 31, 2011
    randomsurfer
    Doesn't Brain's family own the Sugar Bowl in Arthur? I know he sometimes works in the ice cream store that the other kids go to. Or is that another ice cream store, and/or Negative Continuity?

    • In The Brady Bunch Marcia gets a job in an ice cream store, which ups the staff to two (including the owner). Then she gets Peter a job there, and the owner takes an afternoon off for the first time ever.
    • Bobs Burgers: the only staff in the restaurant are Bob's family: he cooks, his wife is the cashier, his older daughter is the waitress and his son wears a goofy suit out front trying to drum up business. His younger daughter is also around but I don't know if she has an official job.
    • In the children's book Clarene Goes to Town Clarence (a dog) and his owners find a small French restaurant which is run by the owner, who has a chef.
    • In seasons 1 & 2 of Chuck Sarah is the only employee seen at the Wiener Schitzel store (later Orange Orange). Could be justified in that it's possible it's a CIA front organization, but the impression one gets is that she just applied for a job there.
  • January 1, 2012
    Arivne
    The "those people are always there" part of this is Eternal Employee and can Pot Hole to that.
  • January 1, 2012
    Mith4
    Apu from The Simpsons seems to be the only employee ever seen at the Quickee Mart.
  • January 1, 2012
    ArtyMorty
    Cracked has a list of movies with understaffed facilities.
  • January 1, 2012
    Psychobabble6
    • There are two employees at The Pie Hole at the start of Pushing Daisies: Ned, the owner and baker, and Olive, the waitress.

    I honestly can't remember if Chuck starts working there after Ned brings her back. Anyone know the show?
  • January 1, 2012
    SavvyAngel
    ^^^^^ Brain's family owns a different ice cream store in town.
  • January 1, 2012
    morenohijazo
    Removed.
  • January 1, 2012
    Ghilz
    Most Real Life businesses, even small, family-owned ones, have at least five employees: one or two cashiers, someone to clean up, someone to do stock, and someone to supervise.

    Hrrrm. No. I know plenty of couple owned business with only two or three employees (Heck, there's a clock repair shop near my home run by one dude). Your generalization is plain wrong.
  • January 1, 2012
    randomsurfer
    ^^^Ah yes, so I see from reading the "Arthur" wiki.

    This could be an example of Law Of Conservation Of Detail, unless it comes up in dialoge or something that there's only one or two people on staff.
  • January 1, 2012
    ImStillAwesome
    Ghilz: How should it be rewritten? I don't like the current phrasing, but I'm kind of stuck on the best way to reword it. Suggestions?
  • January 1, 2012
    Ghilz
    Something like:

    Fictional businesses have much smaller staffs than their operations and working hours suggest/require. These generally come to one or two employees who are manning the place, no matter when we see it. They are presumably the ones doing all the work, even if this seems completely impractical or impossible. Consider that even a simple business like a gas station needs managing, stocking and shelving, cleaning and enough cashiers to man the register 7 days a week (possibly 24 hours a day). This is even true of larger businesses like We Sell Everything Stores or large restaurants, where the small staff may clash with the apparent size and scope of the business. This can also be rather strange when the place is packed with way more clients than the small staff should be able to cater to.

    Other Examples:
    • Most business with the Squeaky Voiced Teen as employee on The Simpsons have him as the sole employee seen. Like the very successful Krusty Burger (to compare, most Mc Donalds run on 3 people during the dead hours and can have over a dozen during rush hours) or the Aztec Theater and the Springfield Googolplex Theatres.
      • Jeffrey "Jeff" Albertson AKA Comic Book Guy is the sole person running The Android's Dungeon. It's worth noting that that for a comic book store, this is not really that unusual.
    • The Quick Stop in The Viewaskew Niverse is always manned by Dante. We know he has a boss and there's at least another employee working there (He's got the flu during the events of Clerks but whenever we see the store, Dante is there alone.)
    • Bub's Concession Stand, which is a We Sell Everything store (he even sells hot tubs and leather chairs!) is run solely by the titular Bubs.
    • Fanboy And Chum Chum have a slush store/corner store staffed by two people. Strangely, they seem to work the same shift.
    • Star Wars:
      • The Mos Eisley Cantina in A New Hope has one dude manning the bar. And the place is packed, poor guy must be tired come the end of the day. A
      • Watto's scrap yard in The Phantom Menace seems to manned solely by him and young Anakin (who is 8). Most of the droids he has seem solely for sale.
      • Dex' Diner in Attack of the Clones is run by Dex (who is the cook) and one waitress droid. Similarly to the Cantina, the place is full.
    • The Juice Bar in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was run by Ernie alone, despite seeming to be the sole place the youths of Angel Grove would gather.
  • January 1, 2012
    ImStillAwesome
    Thanks! That's much better than the current wording. Changing now.
  • January 1, 2012
    YouKeepUsingThatWord
    Apu used to have a brother (Googling tells me his name is Sanjay) who worked with him at the Quickee Mart.

    Is it really worth splitting this from Oddly Small Organization?

  • January 1, 2012
    bulmabriefs144
    I'm pretty sure the pub in Dresden Files has just the one guy (forgot his name).

    Also, in Strange Candy (Okashina Okashi), the evil overlord's staff consists of maybe three people.
  • October 18, 2012
    m8e
    What about this one? Looks to be a trope and it have examples. Maybe needs a better laconic.

    • The yellow flag bar in Black Lagoon. The only one seen working there is the owner Bao.
  • October 19, 2012
    aurora369
  • October 19, 2012
    Nazetrime
    Looks like examples need to be sorted also.
  • October 19, 2012
    m8e
    Sorted it, please check my work.

    Where does the Sam And Max Freelance Police example fit in? Comic Books, Western Animation, Video Games?

    Is really Bobs Burgers understaffed? Doesn't they have something like six tables and almost no customers?

    Also added the blacklagoon example and removed:
    • Cracked actually has a list of movies that happened because of understaffing.
  • October 19, 2012
    m8e
    @aurora369: It's not about this kind of Strangely Small Staff either.
  • October 19, 2012
    CobraPrime
    Probably related to The Law Of Conservation Of Detail: works will only include the staff that has some sort of relevance to the plot or that will interact with the characters.
  • October 19, 2012
    TonyG
    Margaret and Eileen seem to be the only employees at the coffee shop in Regular Show. If they have a boss, he hasn't appeared yet.
  • October 20, 2012
    Nazetrime
    Sorting looks good.
  • October 20, 2012
    WeAreAllKosh
    Always On Duty is related to this as well.
  • October 20, 2012
    Prfnoff
    In the musical Bells are Ringing, the commercial for Susanswerphone that opens the show boasts of a "vast personnel of well-trained girls." The scene immediately changes to their office, where we see the owner and one of her two answering-service girls.
  • October 22, 2012
    TBTabby
    Justified in Going Postal. The only employees at the Ankh-Morpork Post Office are Moist, Mr. Groat and Stanley, but that's because the post office is a dilapidated shell of its former self. As Moist gets the place running again, they start hiring more employees.
  • October 22, 2012
    LobsterMagnus
    Another Simpsons example:
    • Springfield's police force seems (most of the time) only to consist out of Chief Wiggum, Lou and Eddie.
  • January 2, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Another related: The Main Characters Do Everything.

    • WKRP In Cincinnati: The sales department and news department only have one person each. At one point Andy (the program director) makes Les (news director) let Bailey (former intern turned general undefined duties) assist and take over two of the news segments per day. [There are other D Js on staff besides Johnny & Venus but we very rarely see them.]
  • January 2, 2013
    Larkmarn
    I agree with You Keep Using That Word in that I'm not sure this needs to be split off from Oddly Small Organization. It just seems to be the same, but slightly more specific.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable

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