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Only Shop in Town

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Yes, that leaf in the top left is this town's only "Shop".

"However no sooner have you moved into your first broom cupboard then the cruel overtones of the game become apparent; slapped with a hefty mortgage, your initial days will be spent performing tasks for Tom Nook the local shop owner, who also appears to have a monopolistic control over the island."
— Review of Animal Crossing,

When there's a small number of characters populating a small, communal setting in a remote location, individual characters will often be assigned roles within the community. Of these, a common one is to have the local economy controlled by a shopkeeper who runs the only establishment where one can buy and sell goods. In other words, the Only Shop In Town.

Said establishment is usually a small shop with a modest inventory (rather than a big supermarket or suburban department store) which nevertheless has a monopoly. In other words, it's like a MegaCorp, only scaled down to match the setting it's in. Note that this setting need not be an actual, literal "town" for this trope to be in effect: whether the shop is in a forest, a city or a Moon station, as long as there are no others nearby, it qualifies.

These places rarely have more than one employee: the proprietor, who tends to be The Scrooge and may or may not be an important supporting character in the work (they won't usually be a central character, however, due to the sedentary nature of their role).

In Real Life, We Sell Everything and An Economy Is You appear out of necessity in small towns and isolated villages as there may only be enough customers to support one store. In some Company Towns, such as mining camps, the firm may run the company store to sell food and supplies to workers. Since the company store has a monopoly, expect high prices. Sometimes, the government may grant a monopoly to one company. Often found in a Thriving Ghost Town. Can be an Honest John's Dealership, but isn't always.

If the shopkeeper trusts you, they may offer Black Market contraband hidden behind a false shelf.


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  • Ads for stores (and other businesses) sometimes use this trope: characters will be shown to have some kind of problem, and the business being advertised will be presented as if it's the only available solution. Ads for products, on the other hand, avert it: they love to show their "competitors" (usually a Brand X version) and how they're not as good as the product being advertised.

    Anime & Manga 
  • It is played straight in the anime Deltora Quest, in an episode where we get Tom's Shop where he literally sells everything they need. Assuming they actually speak for the item. (No MacGuffins though). The shop is situated in the middle of nowhere, making it this trope.
    Tom: If you do not ask, you do not get. Is that your motto, young sir? Well it is mine too.

    Comic Books 
  • One Lucky Luke story has a stablehand who moonlights as the town's lawyer. The judge is the stable owner.
    "Came out west to become a lawyer, but a man's got to eat..."
  • In the Marvel Universe, pretty much every time anyone in New York needs a criminal lawyer for anything, they'll call in Nelson and Murdock, unless the writer feels like being different, in which case they may go for Jennifer Walters.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In most of the Tremors movies, Perfection, Nevada is served by Walter Chang's Market.

  • Discworld:
    • Quarney's General Store in Lancre Town. In Lords and Ladies, Nanny Ogg corners Mr Quarney and asks him if the store is doing well. Quarney, recognising this as a prelude to costing him something, tries to claim business is bad, but since it's not like Lancrastians can shop around, Nanny isn't having any of it.
    • According to Mrs Bradshaw's Handbook, the Dying Town of Gravelhang has one store that sells tobacco, tinned food, and banjo strings.
  • In The Great Brain books everyone goes to the ZCMI Store, the only general merchandise store in town. Abie Glassman decides to open a permanent store, retiring his traveling wagon, but everyone is used to going to ZCMI for everything so nobody patronizes his store. He starves to death.
  • Star Wars: Kenobi: Dannar's Claim is a combination general store/livery/garage/restaurant/cantina, and the center of life in the Pika Oasis on Tatooine. Dannar opened up a shop (instead of a farm) on his plot of land to cater to his neighbors, and his widow Annileen and their children continue to run the place, which has expanded to cover every common need of the area. (The vehicle repair garage is technically a separate business renting space from Annileen.) The nearest small town, Bestine, has more services, but Dannar's Claim is more conveniently located for all of the local moisture farmers.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Balamory: The titular village has one: Suzie Sweet and Penny Pocket run its only shop. To be fair, this is a village with about ten adult inhabitants, with one building each.
  • Boston Legal: To the point where they occasionally represented both sides in a case. For the record, this is major artistic license: After "Touch Your Client's Money and You're Done", "You Can't Represent Opposite Sides of the Same Case" is probably the biggest single rule in legal ethics.
  • In Father Ted John and Mary (the couple who are always trying to murder each other) run what seems to be the only shop on Craggy Island.
  • Wrangler Jane's trading post (and post office) on F Troop qualifies as this, though O'Rourke and Agarn get a lot of their goods from the Indians.
  • Drucker's Grocery Store is the only store in Hooterville, yet it services two shows, Green Acres and Petticoat Junction.
  • Downplayed some in Hill Street Blues, but Joyce Davenport is the only Public Defender at Hill Street Station who gets to be more than a one-shot character. Presumably this is down to the Law of Conservation of Detail, as she's already a main character thanks to being Captain Furillo's lover.
  • JAG: Often it makes you wonder why Harm, Mac et al. at JAG Headquarters gets to act as trial and defense counsel from a wide array of cases from all around the Navy and the Marines and why they're not handled by the command staff judge advocates out in the field.
    • In the pilot episode, Admiral Brovo makes a suggestion that there wouldn't have been a perceived need to send HQ people out to the USS Seahawk if the missing RIO had been a male for political purposes.
    • It's suggested many times that they're sent out in the field to be impartial whenever there's a concern that the local judge advocates might not be, or that there are none present on the location at all.
  • Kingdom: Justified in that Market Shipborough is a rather small town; there's probably another law firm in town, but just the one. Or maybe two. But no more.
  • Oleson's Mercantile is the only store in Walnut Grove in Little House on the Prairie.
  • In M*A*S*H, BJ's father-in-law lives in Quapaw, Oklahoma, a town Hawkeye sarcastically describes as:
    Hawkeye: A gas station, a grocery store, and a fashionable restaurant called "Eats".
  • The Red Green Show: Humphrey's Everything Store appears to be the only shop in Possum Lake.
  • On Schitt's Creek the only shop in town, The Schitt's Creek General Store, closes to David's dismay. He eventually takes a lease out on the property and opens Rose Apothecary, which elegantly rebrands local products and crafts.
    David: I can't tell what's more tragic, the fact that the only store in town is closing or that they decided to display the fungal cream next to the cereal boxes.
    Stevie: That's actually really convenient because I forgot to have breakfast and I'm running low on fungal cream.

    Puppet Shows 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Call of Cthulhu:
    • The Asylum and Other Tales, adventure "Black Devil Mountain". The town of Indian River only has one general store. When the owner found out that the recently arrived NPC Albert Goddard was living on Black Devil Mountain, he refused to sell anything to him and Goddard had to travel seven miles away to the town of Addison for supplies.
    • Mansions of Madness, adventure "The Plantation". The Gist general store is the only one in the area. If the PCs want to buy supplies, they'll have to go there.
    • The Fungi from Yuggoth adventure "Mountains of the Moon". The village of Huancucho in the Andes mountains of Peru has only one place to buy things: a small trading post that carries tools, canned food, and other items.
    • Shadows of Yog-Sothoth adventure "The Coven of Cannich". The only store in the small Scottish town of Cannich is owned by Jamie MacNab.
    • Supplement Terror Australis, adventure "Pride of Yirrimburra". The small Australian town of Yirrimburra has only one general store, the source of manufactured goods and luxuries.
    • Adventures in Arkham Country, adventure "The Dark Woods". The small village of Dunwich, Massachusetts has only one shop: Osborn's General Store, which is housed in an old church.
    • In the village of Middle Harling, the only place in town to buy things is Ednam's Local Store.
    • The Unspeakable Oath magazine
      • Issue #8/9, adventure "Dark Harvest". The only store in the town of Oak Valley, Iowa is Harv's General Store. Unfortunately for the investigators, the owner of the store is a member of the cult that infests the town.
      • Issue #19, adventure "The Brick Kiln". The village of Trevor Major only has one shop, a general store run by Mrs. Alderson.
  • Chivalry & Sorcery adventure Stormwatch. The town of Swift has only one store, a trading post that sells most of the supplies available in the game.
  • GDW's Dark Conspiracy adventure Hellsgate. The village of Piste has only one shop: the general store and gas station owned by Henry Ruiz. The Player Characters can buy most general supplies they need there, including ammunition.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Judges Guild's Dark Tower (1979). Avvakris' Trade Monopoly is the only general merchants' supply house for miles around the village of Mitra's Fist, and the only place for PCs to buy standard supplies.
    • Module I6 Ravenloft. Bildrath's Mercantile is the only general store, not only in the village of Barovia but in the entire domain. The store's owner charges 10 times normal prices and refuses to bargain. As he says, "If you want it badly enough, you'll pay for it — because you certainly won't be taking your business elsewhere."
    • Module O2 Blade of Vengeance. The village of Oakendale has only one store. It carries most of the equipment in the BD&D Expert rulebook at a 5% markup.
    • Dungeon magazine
      • Issue #5 adventure "The Rotting Willow". The village of Rotting Willow has only one shop, an establishment called Gerald's Store. It's full of a variety of items, all of which are for sale. Player Characters have a 30% chance of finding any standard non-magical item in the store.
      • Issue #13 adventure "The Moor-Tomb Map". The only shop in the town of Moorwall is the general store that is part of the Much More Ale Inn. It sells some of the gear needed by adventurers at a mark-up of 40-60% above standard prices.
      • Issue #22 adventure "Rank Amateurs". The only shop in the village of Trintan is Raoul's General Goods. The Player Characters can buy any good available in the D&D rulebooks.
      • Issue #24 adventure "In the Dread of Night". The only store in the village of Sisak is the general store that shares part of the building which holds the Bountiful Tappe Tavern and Inn.
      • Issue #38 adventure "Horror's Harvest". The village of Delmunster has Wulch's General Store, which sells most of the items found in the AD&D Player's Handbook except for armor and weapons.
      • Issue #56 adventure "Janx's Jinx". The village of Davyd's Rest only has one store: the General Store owned by Prenilla. She has mainly food and leather goods but has a 25% chance of having more exotic items like holy water.
      • Issue #75 adventure "Non-Prophet Organization". The small town of Kellorville only has one store: Malabee's Provisions. They sell supplies for fishing, farming, and sheep-shearing, along with most other items in the AD&D Player's Handbook.
      • Issue #77 adventure "A Feast of Flesh". The small village of Shaerie only has one business, Owen's General Store. The store has useful items such as food, a ladder, oil, cider, lanterns, rope and farming implements.
      • Issue #80 adventure "Fortune Favors the Dead". The small village of Valencia has only one shop, a dry goods store which has some foodstuffs and trade items for sale.
    • 2nd Edition Forgotten Realms campaign setting:
      • Boxed set, booklet "Shadowdale". The town of Shadowdale has only one store: Weregund the Trader's general supply store. It carries a variety of supplies but does not compete with the local smithy, weaver, or woodworking shops.
      • Volo's Guide to Cormyr. The village of Dawngleam only has one place to buy items: a "general goods" shop (general store) named Argyr's Realmsry. It sells just about anything someone could want, and the owner will order items from merchants in other cities if a customer asks.
    • White Dwarf magazine #18 adventure "The Halls of Tizun Thane". There is only one shop in the village of Cahli, a trading store where the Player Character party can buy supplies.
  • Gamma World adventure GW1 Legion of Gold. The town known as the Fortress of Horn has only one shop, a general store that sells food, equipment, and other merchandise.
  • It Came from the Late, Late Show II:
    • Adventure "Showdown at Dry Gulch Station". The town of Dry Gulch Station only has one store, the General Store owned by the Big Bad John Taylor. Customers can buy any product available in the Wild West, including weapons and explosives.
    • Adventure "Tyrannosaurus Tex". The town of Bootheel only has a General Store owned by Howard Parrish.
  • Lejendary Adventures, introductory adventure "Moon Slaves". The town of Simton has only one general store, which belongs to Sylvester Mulhaven.
  • Rolemaster Shadow World setting supplement Star Crown Empire and the Sea of Fates
    • Wolda's General Store in the town of Borbinak fills the needs of adventurers and the local farmers and serves the wholesale needs of local inns and taverns.
    • The small village of Ryne has a single general store.

  • A downplayed, realistic example in Black Friday. Toy Zone isn't literally the only shop in Hatchetfield, but it is the only toy store in the area — and, since the show is set in 2018, one of the few toy stores in America, period. Because Uncle Wiley Toys' has elected to only sell one very limited order of the Wiggly dolls at Toy Zone, rather than selling them in a larger chain or online, the entire town is forced to gather there on Black Friday to even have a chance at getting one. This ends badly. And the chaos turns out to be a completely deliberate outcome on Uncle Wiley's part, revealing that this wasn't just a gimmick to build hype, but an active (and successful) attempt at spreading a Hate Plague!

    Video Games 
  • This tends to occur naturally in the Age of Empires games with the Market building. This building lets you buy and sell resources and trade with the other civilizations, but due to the specifics of how it works each civilization will only ever need one.
  • Tom Nook's store is the only one in the player's town in the original Animal Crossing (see the page image). The Able Sisters sell clothes and accessories in the sequels, but Tom Nook retains his stranglehold on the economy, being the major source of Bells. This changes with New Leaf, where Tom Nook just sells upgrades for your home (and unlike in previous games, he doesn't force you to upgrade when you pay off your current house). His honorary nephews Timmy and Tommy run the local furniture store, and your main source of income becomes the local recycling center/thrift store, Re-Tail.
  • Played around in Demon's Souls. Some maps have more than one merchant but every merchant sells all kinds of items (outside the general potion management).
  • In Dicey Dungeons, the Dungeon Shop keeper occasionally remarks that they should have a slogan about how they are literally your only option when it comes to spending coins.
  • Disney Dreamlight Valley:
    • There is only one general store where players can buy new clothing and furniture, as well as multiples of furniture they already own. And it's run by Scrooge McDuck, of course. He also happens to own the only construction company in the valley, too.
    • Chez Remy, run by the talented rat himself, is the only restaurant for the villagers to eat at. Though considering Remy's second-to-none cooking, nobody seems to mind. That said, it's also the only place where players can get peanuts, slush ice, eggs, and dairy products.
    • While there are multiple stalls where players can buy seeds and growable foods, they are all run by Goofy, and Kristoff runs the only stand dedicated to selling resources.
  • Played around in Dragon Age.
    • Some cities get only one merchant but in others, you are bound to see many merchants. The dwarven city of Orzammar oozes with them and you get some Dwarven travelers joining your trip.
    • It's even the focus of a small sidequest in the besieged town of Lothering, where a Chantry sister is calling out the only merchant in town (aside from the innkeeper) for his price-gouging. The player can choose to drive the sister off or try and convince the merchant to lower his prices.
  • Averted in Drakensang: Each of Ferdok's areas has several merchants selling different stuff, from armors, to weapons, to clothes, to potions, to magic ingredients to useful items and even useless crap too. The sequel even has two vendors (one for weapons, the other for armors) across the same small square, who'll often snark at each other when they're not doing business with you.
  • In The Elder Scrolls series, this is common for many smaller towns and villages. They often have just a single general trader. Averted in larger towns and cities, which have many more shops offering a wider variety of often specialized goods.
  • Quite common in the Fallout series, as the post-apocalyptic world rarely allows for villages and towns large enough to have more than one shop.
    • While they occasionally include a bar and/or a restaurant, Novac in Fallout: New Vegas has nothing but a general store and a covered communal eating area with no vendor.
    • Averted in Fallout 4, at least in the player-controlled settlements. You can have as many shops in a settlement as you have settlers to run them.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • The series has always been pretty good about averting this trope. Sometimes, weapons and armor or both types of magic might be run out of the same building, but typically each type of supplies gets its own brick-and-mortar store in each town.
    • Averted in Final Fantasy VI, where you find different shops for different items in different buildings.
  • I Was a Teenage Exocolonist, starting from the second Vertumnalia Festival, the Strato crew opens the Supply Depot, the first and only shop of the colony. You can spend your Kudos there for special cards, and gaining certain perks by increasing certain skills unlocks new items in stock.
  • The Legend of Zelda
    • Each populated area (for example Castle Town, Goron City, and Zora's Domain) in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time tends to have its own little shop. Interestingly, they have unique shopkeepers (who have their own lines of dialogue), suggesting that Nintendo saw the shop as an important aspect of each such area.
    • Some of the games do it a little differently, however. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker has unique shops on a few islands, and the whole rest of the world is serviced by Beedle's Shop Ship. Both are examples of this trope.
    • In The Wind Waker, the owner of the Bomb Shop on Windfall Island takes pride in the fact that he's the only resident of the Great Sea in the bomb-selling business, and uses it to set ridiculously sky-high prices for his bombs (10,000 rupees for a group of 10 bombs, for example). Though later on, he takes a level in kindness when Tetra and her group of Pirates, not willing to pay his prices, bind and gag him, and steal his wares from him instead. He starts charging far more reasonable prices after that.
  • LEGO Island: The titular island has a Pizzeria owned by Mama and Papa Brickolini that is beloved by the island's residents, even though they are aware that it's the only restaurant on the island. Likewise, the island has only one gas station that also serves as the only garage for vehicle maintenance and repairs.
  • Love of Magic: Diana mentions that there are other bookshops around, but you always go to hers, which charges £100 for every book (with a few exceptions that she gives you for free). But, the books are always exactly what you need. An Exaggerated Trope when Owyn pays £100 for a pad of paper to leave a note with.
  • Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals has a rather major aversion: there is a shop for items, another for spells, and another for general items, in different buildings.
  • Minecraft has an interesting version, where a player on a multiplayer server will often set up a place to barter items with other players (note that this is not specifically provided for by the gameplay). Most servers only have one, because when the niche is filled no one will find another.
  • Pokémon
    • The series puts its own little spin on this: each town only contains one shop, but they are all branches of the Pokémart MegaCorp.
    • Somewhat played straight in later installments: The Pokémart is now a part of each Pokémon Center, with a small shop in either the front or the back.
  • Averted in Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale. You are the owner of one of the shops in town and with the merchant credential, you get discounts on the different shops in the market. Some shops are referenced even though you cannot see them.
  • Resident Evil Village: The Duke runs a thriving mercantile empire from his carriage, which is apparently the only place to buy anything in the titular town. Of course, it's justified in that the entire village is almost abandoned by the time Ethan gets there, with only a few lingering people left, and they're not exactly looking to purchase a lot.
  • The traditional "only shop in town" trope only appears in the original Shadow Hearts, and it's a commodity at that. Most of the time you buy your stuff from an unnamed "tight-lipped merchant" that shows up in places. Covenant gets rid of shops altogether and replaces them with the Magimel Brothers, who appear in every location, including dungeons, regardless of anything and too much to Yuri's disbelief. Only Gerard returns in From the New World and, along with his boyfriend Bunghen, takes pretty much the same role.
  • Averted and played straight by turns in the Shining Series. Each town usually has one shop for weapons and one shop for healing items and power-ups. Occasionally though both will be sold in one store.
  • Zig-Zagged in the first Uncharted Waters: in any big port, you will have exactly one shop to trade in common goods, one to trade items and treasures (optional), and one to build and sell ships (each located on the exact same spot on the port's Point-and-Click Map). The second game sometimes has several shops of the same kind per port but also plays it relatively straight for the most part.
  • In the World of Mana series we get the Cat Merchants which bring the item selling to various dangerous situations.

    Web Animation 
  • Free Country, USA in Homestar Runner has Bubs' Concession Stand. This is a small structure where one can buy just about anything. Weirdly, no currency ever seems to actually change hands, even when characters "shop" there. Not only does Bubs run the only shop in the HR universe, but he also personally runs every single form of enterprise, from the bar in Club Technochocolate to Strong Bad's Internet Service Provider. He even runs the local black market!

    Western Animation 
  • The Economy Cast of Fireman Sam includes shopkeeper Dilys Price, who runs the only shop in Pontypandy. Probably a justified example, at least in the original stop-motion series, as the village appears to be pretty small. You can also sometimes see characters holding carrier bags from a Bland-Name Product version of Tesco, roughly the British equivalent of Wal-Mart.
  • The Flintstones:
    • Bedrock has only one caterer, which is why the owner, as he puts it, can afford to be "such a smart alec". And after Fred hires him to cater Pebbles' birthday party and his lodge's stag party and the guy gets the two mixed up, he actually gets away with it, for the same reason.
    • Bedrock has the same problem with costume stores, and Fred gets in hot water with his boss after a bad experience with the only such store.
  • Noddy's Toyland Adventures, based on the Noddy books by Enid Blyton, added a doll named Dinah Doll, whose market is the only shop in Toyland.
  • PB&J Otter: Dad's General Store seems to be the only shop on Lake Hoohaw.
  • The Simpsons:
    • The Android's Dungeon seems to be the only shop in Springfield where one can buy comic books. In a bit of Irony, the one day Comic Book Guy tried to gloat about it to customers threatening to buy comics elsewhere was the day a bigger comic book shop was opening across the street from his.
    • In one episode, Homer hires a builder called Surly Joe when the house's foundations were damaged but gets outraged when Joe gave him an expensive estimate and tells him "Forget it! You're not the only foundation guy in town!" He goes inside, opens the phonebook to "foundation repair", and finds one advert: "Surly Joe's Foundation Repair, THE ONLY FOUNDATION REPAIR COMPANY IN TOWN".
    • For the most part, the people of Springfield only ever seem to buy groceries at the Kwik-E-Mart.

    Real Life 
  • Occasionally happens in rural areas, where a village will be served by one family-run grocery shop. Not exactly common in cities. Sometimes the local government has to step in. In Baldwin, Florida, for example, after the only grocery store in town closed, the mayor opened a government-run store.
  • Wroxham in Norfolk, United Kingdom (pop. 1,500) has about a dozen outlets of Roys of Wroxham, including Roy's Food Hall, Roy's Garden Centre, Roy's Toys & Games, Roy's DIY, Roy's Zone Young Fashion, Little Miss Roy's girls' outfitters — it's like Hazzard County there!
  • A fair number of villages in the UK will have a post office (which doubles as a small supermarket), and typically a pub and a church.
  • A common problem in company towns, where all local amenities, including the store, are owned by a single company and are able to sell their goods at an inflated price.
  • Due to population decline in Japan, some towns have used post offices to double as supermarkets.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Only Law Firm In Town


Surly Joe's Foundation Repair

When Surly Joe offers an estimate of $8,500 to fix the Simpsons's foundation, Homer turns him down, saying he's not the only foundation repairman in town. Upon opening the phone book, however, he immediately learns otherwise.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / OnlyShopInTown

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