Going to the Store


A subtrope of Room Shuffle.

A stock excuse for going out, when a character either doesn't want to give the true reason or is leaving not to return, is "I'm going to the store". In Manga, Anime and other Japanese media, the store in question is likely to be referred to as the konbini; i.e., the local convenience store open at practically all hours.

One reason this trope is a lot more prevalent in Japanese media is that they don't have a lot of space in their homes for storage, and convenience stores sell more kinds of things, so it happens more in Japan.

In the U.S., though, going to get cigarettes or milk or "the paper" is often a convenient excuse to get a character away from the others for a while, and as there are convenience stores that are open 24 hours a day, too, it's not a major expedition, so one character may go alone.

Another use in media is if a character (usually a father) says they're just going to the store, but then never comes back. It can be used this way seriously or not, but in either case it shows the the person cares nothing about the people they're leaving behind.

See also I Need to Go Iron My Dog.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Great Teacher Onizuka: When Anko goes out to meet Noboru, she tells her mother that she's going to the store. Her mother wonders "You took a shower to go to the store? And is that my perfume?"
  • The Girl Who Leapt Through Time: Makoto uses it as a pretext to go out to test her time-leap ability.
  • In the Slayers OVA "Jeffrey's Knighthood", Jeffrey's father left to get milk and disappeared for ten years. Presumably he was trying to get away from his crazy wife Josephine.
  • Inverted in Kimi to Boku. When Kaname gets annoyed at his mother bothering him while his friends are over, he tells here she should go to the store to buy food for dinner. Then she asks him if he would go with her.
  • Happens in the Fresh Pretty Cure! movie. For all four girls. So they can investigate odd goings on involving missing toys. Love's mom questions why all four have to go out at the same time for one little item.
  • Kaoru did this in the anime version of I Can't Understand What My Husband is Saying (in the manga version she claimed that she was stepping out for a smoke) when she felt unsure about her compatibility with her husband.

  • In the comic strip Stone Soup, Joan's ex-husband Leon went to the store for some milk and didn't come back. Rumor has it that the store was in the Bahamas.

  • Betelnut Beauty: Fei-fei, about to run away from home, claims she's going to the convenience store to get past her mother.
  • In Corrina, Corrina the titular character's husband left to the store to get cigarettes and never came back. The little girl, upon being told this, is afraid this might happen to her dad, who smokes.
  • Quartier Lointain (the film adaptation of A Distant Neighborhood): The protagonist's father says he's going out to buy some bread on the night of his 40th birthday, but in fact he is leaving never to return.
  • In Cinderella II: Dreams Come True, Anastasia tries to improvise a reason for visiting Dimitri the baker by grabbing some bread from the pantry, tossing it out the window, and telling Lady Tremaine that she has to go buy some more.

    Live Action TV 
  • Jackie uses this excuse in one episode of That '70s Show (she actually goes to make out with Hyde).
    Jackie: Um, you know, I just remembered that I have to go to the mall because they're having this big Monday Madness sale.
    Donna: Jackie, it's Tuesday.
    Jackie: See? Total madness!
  • Will's dad in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air left him for 14 years with this trope.
  • Same for Phoebe's dad for his 2nd family. He went to the drugstore 4 years ago, so he should be back any minute now.
  • It was a cliché in mysteries for a long time: "What really happened to your husband, Mrs Quigley?" "He went out to get cigarettes six years ago, but he never came back!"
  • iCarly uses this quite often. One of the more blatant examples is shoving Sam out to buy meat, so that Carly and Freddie can discuss the face he's not had a real First Kiss. Only for Sam to realise she has no money, and come back and overhear the conversation.
  • Married... with Children: Seven's parents went to "get cigarettes". Al notices they used the excuse to leave town and leave Seven with them.
  • While slipping out for some slaying in "Living Conditions", Buffy tells her college roommate that she's going for coffee. In the middle of the night.
  • 30 Rock:
    • Played straight when Tracy associates the scent of Liz's hair product with his absent father:
    "You're still here! You didn't go to the store for milk and heroin and then never come back!"
    • Subverted when Jack is talking about his father:
    “Thirty-five years ago my father, Jimmy Donaghy, went out for a pack of cigarettes, came back, smoked one, told my mother he was leaving forever, and walked out the door.”
  • This was how Punky Brewster wound up living alone before being found at the beginning of the series. Her mom had gone to the store and never came back. In a slight twist, Punky and her dog were waiting outside the store instead of at home. The mystery of her mom's fate served as an occasional plot point for the rest of the series.
  • In Are You Being Served? Again! (aka Grace and Favour) we are told that Mrs Slocombe's husband went out 45 years ago to get some slightly salted butter and never came back.

  • In their live cover of The Doors' Roadhouse Blues, the Blue Öyster Cult front man Eric Bloom uses his trip to the store to set up the key line in the song, first by namechecking Los Angeles (huge roar from crowd), then rapping on checking into the hotel, finding out room service was closed, and being forced to go out to find an open seven-eleven. He gets back to the room and falls asleep before he can consume his purchases. What did he do?
    I woke up this morning and I got myself a beer!
  • Benji and Joel Madden's father deserted them this way. They've written several songs which are either about it ("The Story of My Old Man") or mention it in passing ("The Little Things").
  • Carly Rae Jepsen does a variation of this on "Store" (from her E•MO•TION: Side B EP). Unlike most uses of this trope, it's from the point of view of the person who's leaving.
    Oh, I can't talk about it, can't talk about it cause
    I'm just goin' to the store, to the store
    I'm just goin' to the store
    You might not see me anymore, anymore
    I'm just goin' to the store

    Stand Up Comedy 
  • Ray Romano discussed how he would volunteer for chores if he needed to leave the house. These included stopping by the DMV or applying for jury duty.
  • Similarly, Louis CK has a story that starts: "Once, my wife sent me to the store to get toilet paper. Because we were out of toilet paper. Because I had thrown it all in the garbage so I could get out of the house."

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Nelson's dad from The Simpsons went to the store a few years back and never came back. It is later revealed that he didn't intend to disappear, but he ate peanuts, causing him to puff up and get abducted by a circus passing by.
  • In The Fairly OddParents!, Cosmo's mother didn't approve of his relationship with Wanda. To hide their marriage, Cosmo had to give her an excuse to leave. He told her he was going out to get milk. Cosmo and Wanda have been married for 10,000 years.
  • It's revealed in The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Man", Richard's father "left home to get some milk". Forty-two years ago. When Richard discovers the truth, he breaks down bawling.

    Real Life 
  • This happened with Stephen King's father when Stephen was two years old. He didn't come back. King later joked he must have been looking for a rare brand.
  • This is a Christmas Dead Horse Trope (or possibly a Dead Unicorn Trope) in Sweden. On Christmas Eve, the father in the family uses the excuse of "I'm going to the store to buy a newspaper" to sneak off and dress up as Santa Claus.
    • Played for laughs in a Christmas special where Santa ended his visits by going to the local store to tell all the dads they could go home now.