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Predatory Business
An evil large corporate retailer moves into a previously "unspoiled" area, and proceeds to try to drive all the pre-existing local "Mom & Pop" competition out of business, usually through a combination of price undercutting, bribery and other shady business practices. Frequently depicted as offering inferior products, but at much lower prices. Very frequently involves a Corrupt Corporate Executive. Sometimes even has some Screw the Rules, I Have Money! to avoid being punished, or to survive losing customers. Our heroes must then band together in an effort to save their beloved coffee shop/video store/bookstore from certain extinction.

Often employed as a Strawman Political to reprimand corporate businesses, but may sometimes be an accurate depiction of the dirty tricks that certain big companies use.

When considering whether an example would fit this trope or not, please keep in mind that simply having a large corporate entity in the story may not qualify it as a Predatory Business. The intention of this trope is that the large corporation's aggressive business tactics and the opposition to the corporation should figure in a plot or subplot. For situations where the corporate entity is more of a environmental detail or a mood-setting device, Mega Corp. or Bland-Name Product may be more appropriate.

Not to be confused with Welcome To Evil Mart which is about companies and corporations that specifically cater to villains.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Ikoku Meiro no Croisée, the Galerie du Roy is threatened by the opening of a "Grande Magazine", or as it would be known now, a Department Store.

    Film 
  • Fox Books in You've Got Mail
    • Possibly subverted: The small bookstore does go out of business, but Meg and Tom fall in love anyway, so it's all good?
    • This trope is definitely in full effect at first. But it is also eventually subverted in that the megacorp is offering cheaper goods, but it still serves the community for the better, as can be seen when Meg Ryan is walking around the store, noticing that groups of adults and children alike are scattered around reading books and having fun. Even though one employee didn't know about the "Shoe" books, there's no indication that they are selling cheap material or using dirty business practices. As Tom Hanks said, "I sell cheap books. Sue me."
  • Buy N Large from WALL•E is pretty much the end effect of this.
    • Also subverted in a weird way. Generally Predatory Businesses are criticized for selling cheap, crappy merchandise, but the Axiom and nearly everything on it are incredibly well-built, given that all its systems are working with apparently no problems centuries after the ship was supposed to return to Earth.
      • According to Word of God, the Wall-E units suffered some sort of massive production failure, leaving only one active, which is why Buy N Large decided to give up on cleaning up the Earth.
  • *batteries not included had a variation where a corp was trying to buy out the inhabitants of some tenement blocks so they could build a skyscraper in their place. The residents of one block resisted, and the corp started using dirtier and dirtier tactics to get rid of them.
  • Mondo Burger from the old Nicktoons movie Good Burger.
  • Walmart: The High Cost of Low Prices, a documentary that attempts to prove that Walmart is this trope.
  • In Mel Brooks' Silent Movie, the evil mega-studio "Engulf & Devour" (a play on Gulf+Western, who had recently bought Paramount) was determined to shut Mel Funn's tiny studio down, much like a melodrama villain trying to shut down an orphanage. The tagline at the end of the movie read "This is a true story."

    Literature 
  • Early example: Ring's Come-one Come-all Up-to-date Stores from An International Affair by P. G. Wodehouse. Local, cosy "Ma and Pa" tea-shop depends on students of local boarding school. Along comes Evil Franchised Store, undercutting them something awful and fully intending to take advantage of the local yokels. Then some plucky students band together, have tea at the New Place, and secretly take something that makes them really sick, thus giving the New Place a reputation for food poisoning.
  • Subverted in Emile Zola's Au Bonheur des Dames, where the owner of the aggressively expanding corporation is the protagonist. It doesn't prevent Zola from pointing out (with impressive foresight) how such stores tend to drive their less competitive neighbours out of business.
    • And the owner is a manipulative bastard who plays on humans baser instincts.
  • The Store, a horror novel by Bentley Little. A large corporation places "The Store" in the protagonist's home town and things go downhill from there.
  • Speedy Mart, from the Kitty Norville series by Carrie Vaughn. The owner of the chain creates natural disasters with magic. Kitty's bounty hunter friend that tried to kill her once saves the day, with help from a century old ghost. It makes sense in context.
    • The stores themselves appear to be clean if a draw for paranormal activity. It's just that the chain exists not to do business but to cover the movements of and provide (what are effectively) "arms caches" to a very high priced contract killer. It's left unspecified whether the chain is subsidized by the proceeds of criminal activity (which would indeed let it unfairly compete).
  • In the Barry Trotter parody series, the Voldemort stand-in Lord Valumart fits this trope by selling magical goods to the Muddle world.
  • In Reaper Man, Death is fired and one consequence of there being too much life force in the world as a result is that it starts making metaphors literal. One such metaphor is the idea that big corporate shopping malls are parasitic predators that suck the life out of inner city shops, with a living mall coming into existence as a result.
  • Orson Scott Card's prequel novel Earth Unaware portrays Juke Limited in this manner. A big asteroid mining conglomerate that routinely puts down its competitors and free mining families. Lem Jukes, the son of the company's CEO, is tasked with testing the company's latest invention - a gravity laser designed to break down asteroids into component parts for easy mining. He needs a large asteroid to test it on but doesn't want to spend 4 months traveling to a free one (and then 4 months back), so instead chooses to "bump" a free miner ship from a nearby asteroid. When a crewmember raises concerns over the ethical side of things, he does his best to point out how they're not actually doing anything bad. The free miners don't legally own the asteroid. Unfortunately, the "bump" results in the death of one of the free miners.

    Live Action TV 
  • In Lottery!, a small mom and pop grocery store finds itself facing a major supermarket opening up across the street. They refuse to be bought out and they are about to be crushed, but the Intersweep Lottery rep comes to tell them they won over a million dollars. Armed with this sudden windfall, the family decides to fight fire with fire with the supermarket and enters a competition war is so fierce that the supermarket chain's owner investigates and he turns about to a friend of the small store family and a compromise is reached.
  • This trope was examined on the "Wal-Mart" episode of Penn & Teller: Bullshit!. Penn argues that Wal-Mart's growth is the natural end result of capitalism, and that demonizing Wal-Mart is unfair.
  • On Leverage the team tries to stop a new big box store from opening and driving the local mom-and-pop out of business. Unfortunately, the episode treats the big store's predatory nature mostly as an Informed Flaw and thus we get a Broken Aesop where the heroes seem to be sabotaging a legitimate business because it is offering better prices and service then the team's clients. The executive in charge of the store opening uses a number of unethical tactics and is a jerk but most of it is in response to the various underhand tactics the team uses to try to shut the store down.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • Mentioned in FoxTrot:
    Andy: I wish that Starbucks hadn't opened up.
    Roger: Why? You think it'll hurt the Mom & Pop coffeeshops?
    Andy: Because it's on the route Peter takes to come home.
    Roger: I wondered why his teeth were chattering all the way through dinner.

    Tabletop Games 
  • AAA corporations in Shadowrun
  • In Mutant Chronicles just about every megacorp plans on doing what ever it takes to gain more grounds against the other megacorps. Their also not afraid to go on all out war with each other.
  • One of the True Fae in the Changeling: The Lost book Grim Fears is trying to take over the Earth by heading a megacorp of big box stores.

    Video Games 
  • Pizza Dinosaur from WarioWare; their corporate song even says the 'lower quality products but cheaper' part.
    We represent Pizza Dinosaur
    We've got the most stores in the world
    Our crust is tough and our sauce is thin
    But we're everywhere so you gotta give in!
    Mona Pizza's got nothin' on us
    'Cuz we've got six-thousand-stores-plus!
  • In Persona 4, Junes is regarded as one, though it's more a parody of Mega Corps. Its poor reputation (though people still shop there even while blaming it for driving small shops out of business, similar to people in Walmart in real life) has several long-reaching effects; the most obvious is on party member Yosuke, who happens to be the son of the manager.
    • In the Golden Ending of The Golden, Junes averts this in part due to Yosuke's suggestion that Junes make a section for local foods and crafts that go right back to the mom & pop stores in the town proper.
  • Pizza Bat in No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, which has hurt the local fast food places like Burger Suplex.
  • Ben Jordan: Paranormal Investigator has this as "Bean There, Done that".
  • If your income drops too low in SimCity 3000, you may be propositioned to build a Gigamall in your city. By doing so, you'll earn a steady income which can keep you in the black, but like all the business deal buildings, there's a catch: The Gigamall torpedoes the development of your own commercial sector.
  • In Hyperdimension Neptunia, there's a company called Avenir, a technology factory who owns a majority of the business on Lastation, and has used its influence to crush its competition and garner protection from Parliament, preventing Neptune and her friends from entering the Basilicom.
  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, two major corporations provide augmentation to the world. Adam Jensen works for Sarif Industries which is run by David Sarif, an idealist who truly believes augmentation is the key to a brighter future for humanity. To the point that he funds research dedicated to making his most profitable product, the drug that people with augments need to maintain their health, obsolete. Sarif ultimately cares less about money and more about making augmentation available to as many people as possible (preferably all of them). Tai Young Medical, run by Zhao is unfortunately dominating the market. Their products are shoddy pieces of junk compared to Sarif Industries', so TYM resorts to hiring mercs to attack their competitors' facilities and framing them for unethical experiments while hiding their own. TYM being backed by the Illuminati (who do not want augmentation to become too widespread since it would threaten their power over the world) doesn't help Sarif Industries either. TYM's "business model" doesn't rely on outperforming the competition. It relies on removing it entirely through whatever means necessary.

    Web Comics 
  • Wondermark had a comic that subverted this where the one complaining about this trope pertaining to a bookstore was mostly peeved that the new store's security was not of the "old man in chair napping" model.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Done twice in South Park.
    • While Wall Mart is the physical shell of an Eldritch Abomination, the boys make the argument that if the citizens of South Park really don't want it to succeed over the local "mom & pop" stores... stop shopping there. This is reflected by the core of the Wall Mart being a mirror, so the boys (who were told to destroy the core) see themselves in it. So then they just break the mirror which causes the Wall Mart to collapse into itself.
    • Subverted in the episode for Harbucks Coffee. Most of the episode involves a small coffee shop owner, Mr. Tweek, trying to keep Harbucks from imposing on his business, including forcing the four main characters to rally the town around him. Then it turns out that Harbucks actually does make better coffee than Tweek's when the townspeople finally get around to tasting it, and Mr. Tweek is even offered a good job working there (although he declines in favor of selling his son into slavery).
  • 6teen had Tajma-home-video, doing essentially this to smaller video stores.
  • Megalomart from King of the Hill. Also Alamo Beer in a few episodes. However, after the Megalomart is blown up and rebuilt it stops being this.
  • Superstore USA from Family Guy.
  • Red Rocket (a front for COBRA, of course) from the original G.I. Joe.
    • Cobra Industries in G.I. Joe: Renegades is made of this, although their pies are better than homemade. Their bagel-dogs aren't bad either.
  • The monstromarket featured in the Garfield and Friends short "Supermarket Mania".
  • An episode of The Garfield Show has Garfield saving Vito's pizzeria from a Corrupt Corporate Executive's pizza store chain, which sells terrible-tasting pizza.
  • "Sprawl-Mart" is portrayed like this in the later episodes of The Simpsons. Also, Ned Flanders has to compete against the left-handed giant "Left Mart".
    • One episode had a gag where Homer was visiting Flanders' store and made a comment about all the Starbucks in the mall. Upon leaving, every store except Flanders' has been replaced by a Starbucks.
    • In an earlier episode, Bart goes to a mall to get his ear pierced, passing several Starbucks stores, and a place with a sign saying "Coming Soon - A Starbucks". On entering the piercing store, he is informed that it is becoming a Starbucks in five minutes. Five minutes later, Bart leaves with a pierced ear and a Starbucks cup.
  • One of the VeggieTales stories, based on Don Quixote, had a little local restaurant that was very successful...until a giant corporate eatery, The Food Factory, moved in across the street. Later in the episode, this is subverted when it's revealed that The Food Factory doesn't open until lunch so the small local restaurant just has to change its menu to feature breakfast staples.
  • The Quicker Stop from the pilot of Clerks.
  • Largest Ever Pet Shop from Littlest Pet Shop (2012).
  • Gigundo-Mart from Dan Vs.


Post Robbery TraumaPlotsPremature Empowerment
Politically Incorrect VillainVillainsPredecessor Villain
OfficeI Need an Index by MondayVast Bureaucracy
Pragmatic VillainyAdministrivia/No Real Life Examples, Please!President Evil

alternative title(s): Volde Mart
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