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Predatory Business

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"A corporation is like a big, hungry monster. My job is to find smaller, weaker monsters for it to eat."
Charlotte Pickles on her job at MergeCorp, Rugrats

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. Our heroes must now band together in an effort to save their beloved coffee shop/video store/bookstore from certain extinction.

Frequently depicted as offering inferior products, but at much lower prices. The person running this company is usually a Corrupt Corporate Executive. Sometimes even has some Screw the Rules, I Have Money! to avoid being punished, or to survive losing customers. If the company decides to buy up the local businesses once they fail, they may invoke Majority-Share Dictator.

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 an environmental detail or a mood-setting device, MegaCorp or Bland-Name Product may be more appropriate.

Here's an example to use for comparison. Fox Books from You've Got Mail does not fit this trope. Yes, his company drove The Shop Around the Corner out of business, but they did it by simply selling their product in a competitive market, they did not engage in misconduct.

Not to be confused with Welcome to Evil Mart which is about companies and corporations that specifically cater to villains. Compare Community-Threatening Construction.



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    Anime & Manga 

    Fan Works 
  • In the Surveillance series by smilebackwards, Tim Drake never becomes Robin, and instead acts as the rather combative and very young CEO of Drake Enterprises fighting off Lex Luthor's increasingly deadly attempts to undermine and buy out his parents' company and other resources Tim prevents him from getting his hands on, like Kryptonite.

    Film — Animated 
  • Buy N Large from WALL•E is pretty much the end effect of this, ruling all of mankind in a corporate spaceship and leaving Earth behind as a wasteland. Played with in that such businesses are generally 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.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • *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.
  • Good Burger featured a giant chain burger place called Mondo Burger opening across the street from the titular eatery, with their manager Kurt making it perfectly clear from day one his goal is to drive Good Burger out of business. To this end, they sell competitively-priced burgers which are laced with an illegal additive which makes them grow three times bigger than a Good Burger when cooked.
  • 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."
  • Walmart The High Cost Of Low Prices, a documentary that attempts to prove that Walmart is this trope.
  • Similarly, You Don't Mess with the Zohan partly revolves around a developer trying to tear down a neighborhood and build a shopping mall in its place. He raises the rent to ridiculous extremes and even recruits some domestic terrorists to try to inflame tensions between the resident Jews and Palestinians. Thanks to Zohan's many talents, the local hair salon is able to fight back.

  • Subverted in Émile 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 neighbors out of business.
    • And the owner is a manipulative bastard who plays on human's baser instincts.
  • In the Barry Trotter parody series, the Voldemort stand-in Lord Valumart fits this trope by selling magical goods to the Muddle world.
  • Orson Scott Card's Earth Unaware, a prequel to Ender's Game, 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 four months traveling to a free one (and then four 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.
  • 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.
  • Journey to Chaos: Once Gunrai Enterprises enters a market, it will drive everyone else out of that market. This is because the head of the company, Kaiba Gunrai, is an elf whose eternal hobby is basically "winning in the economic sector". He says that it's because he has better products, better service, etc. but it's apparently common knowledge that he does terrible things to his business rivals as several characters comment on it.
  • 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.
  • 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).

    Live Action TV 
  • 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 than 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.
  • 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 against 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.
  • The Nutt House: The Texplex hotel chain wants to buy the Nutt House, mostly because the owner told him 'no', and "Nobody ever says no to me!"
  • 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.
  • Superstore: Cloud 9, as an expy of Wal-Mart. Glenn mentions that they drove his father's hardware store out of business, and despite working for them as a manager, he has a deeply repressed grudge that flares up from time to time. Such as in season 6 when the CEO reveals that he made his dad eat dog food.

  • Mentioned in "Goin' Goin' Gone" by Thrasher Shiver:
    They just broke ground outside of town for a home improvement store
    I guess Mr. Johnson won't be selling any hammers at his hardware anymore...

    Newspaper Comics 
  • A Running Gag in Adam@home is Clayton forgoing the traditional lemonade stand in favor of a coffee stand. One Sunday strip has him waiting for customers only for a sinister-looking limo to drive by. After asking them "Can I help you?", we Smash Cut to a panel of Clayton holding a wad of bills while his stand is bulldozed to make way for a new Starbucks.
  • Mentioned in FoxTrot:
    Andy: I wish that Starbucks hadn't opened up.
    Roger: Why? You think it'll hurt the Mom & Pop coffee shops?
    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.

  • Parodied in The Lenny Henry Show sketches featuring Paul's Brixton Bibliotheque. Despite his insistence that Waterstones (the big UK bookshop chain) is driving him out of business, it's clear that his main problems are that not many people know a "bibliotheque" is a bookshop, and the rants he unleashes at what few customers he gets.

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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.
  • In Mutant Chronicles just about every megacorp plans on doing whatever it takes to gain more grounds against the other megacorps. They’re also not afraid to go to all-out war with each other.

    Video Games 
  • In Bear & Breakfast, Pawn Voyage is a shady pawn shop promising lots of money and other perks to those starting their business with their help. They claim that humans have become good to the animals and are willing to stay at an inn run by them, but as Fin the literal Loan Shark mascot warns Hank after he books his first guest, he and his friends are actually on their way to financial ruin. The company also has low quality standards, yet it berates Hank for not having enough Prestige to attract more lucrative guests, and it greedily encourages him to buy prettier decor to help rake in the cash from them.
  • Ben Jordan: Paranormal Investigator has this as "Bean There, Done that".
  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, two major corporations provide augmentation to the world. Adam Jensen works for Sarif Industries, whose CEO David Sarif is an idealist who truly believes that augmentation is the key to a brighter future for humanity. He even 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). Unfortunately, Tai Yong Medical, run by Zhao Yun Ru, is 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. Given that TYM is based in Hengsha, China, it also comes with shades of China Takes Over the World, reflecting real-world fears about the business practices of Chinese corporations.
  • Dot's Home: Despite its name, Hope Equity is anything but a real estate company that provides housing equality for everyone, especially people of color. It has historically redlined the Blacks by selling inferior houses to them at a high price and lying about their quality, and then adding hidden costs in their monthly payments and maintenance just because of their tenant's race. Hope Equity has also done Villainous Gentrification, where they demolish old houses without the homeowners' consent to build luxury condominiums, not caring if it displaces Detroit's Black-majority population. Even in the modern times, Hope Equity still hasn't changed its practices, for they still discriminate against immigrants and build houses near environmental hazards.
  • 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.
  • Night in the Woods provides a downplayed example with the Ham Panther, a large supermarket/general goods chain that put the friendly local supermarket (and its slightly-creepy animatronics) out of business. Although several townsfolk, including Mae, resent the loss, Bea reminds her that it provides a much-needed boost to Possum Springs's economy and employs a good number of residents, including Mae's own father.
  • No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle: Pizza Bat, which has hurt the local fast food places like Burger Suplex.
  • 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.
  • DOGMA from Segagaga. An evil, faceless corporation that controls 97% of the video game market at the beginning of the game, having crushed all the competition... Except for Sega, who launches the "Project Segagaga" as a last-ditch effort to stop DOGMA's threat of total monopoly.
  • 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.
  • Stardew Valley has the Joja Corporation. The plot of this game (a farming simulator in the vein of Harvest Moon) is kicked off by the player character getting tired of their mindless desk job at a Joja Corp office and moving to Stardew Valley to work on the old farm their grandfather gifted them. The main plot entails the player making the decision to save the small town which has fallen into decline as the direct result of Joja setting up shop in the area... or simply embrace the local JojaMart and do all your shopping there (in exchange for discounts on their products). Even the company's slogans are downright sinister:
    Life's better with Joja.
    Join us. Thrive.
  • 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!

  • Herdthinners Inc in Kevin & Kell is a massive corporation that uses underhanded methods to take down the competition, with Kell's rival company, Dewclaw's Fine Meats, mostly surviving because Herdthinners' internal ruthlessness is often counterproductive, while her employees and customers actually like her. Of course, both of them are quite literally predatory.
  • 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 
  • Wal-Mart Watch actually has a YouTube parody called Harry Potter and the Dark Lord Waldemart.
  • The JibJab video "Big Box Mart". A big retail chain, "Big Box Mart" sells everything very cheaply, but this results in factories outsourcing their labor force, because that's the only way they can make stuff cheap enough to sell to Big Box Mart. The protagonist who loved to shop at Big Box Mart loses his job because of this, and ends up working there as a janitor.
  • Neurotically Yours had a running gag about Foamy's absolute loathing of Starbucks and their systematic destruction of small business coffee shops. Unfortunately, he dealt with this by ranting at the barista, who of course had zero influence on anything the company did (though his attitude about how no one "gives a shit" about small business didn't help his case).
  • StrexCorp in Welcome to Night Vale turned Night Vale's rival city of Desert Bluffs into a Company Town a while ago and in the first two years of the podcast start moving into Night Vale. Buying out or driving into bankruptcy every business in the city, including the community radio station, and also worshipping a vile Smiling God who was pure evil even by Night Vale standards. Fortunately, in episode 49, Night Vale managed to succeed at a bloody revolution and what was left of the company was bought by Old Woman Josie's angel friends.

    Western Animation 
  • 6teen had Taj Mahome Video, doing essentially this to smaller video stores.
  • Archie's Weird Mysteries features a new mall in town that has literally everything the kids could want and even offers mall-exclusive credit cards so they don't have to spend any money there. This naturally starts cutting into all of the local businesses' earnings, forcing them into closure. As it turns out, this trope is somewhat literal in this case; when the credit cards' limits are reached, the owner of the mall turns the kids into statues so he can use them to settle his Deal with the Devil. Fortunately, Jughead's loyalty to Pops' proves a Spanner in the Works and everyone makes it out save for the owner who's forced to face the music on his own.
  • The first episode of Clerks: The Animated Series revolves around Corrupt Corporate Executive Leonardo Leonardo creating the Convenience Store of The Future, which is really more of a massive, sprawling mall, driving Quick Stop and the surrounding block of stores out of business. It's accidentally demolished by Jay and Silent Bob in a fireworks mishap by the end of the episode. It also parodies the "Starbucks is everywhere" meme by having every story in the mall contain a coffee shop in it - except for the coffee shop, which has a bookstore in it (the bookstore has a smaller coffee shop in it).
  • Gigundo-Mart from Dan Vs.
  • Superstore USA from the Family Guy episode "Hell Comes to Quahog", which not only drives all other businesses into bankruptcy, it even leeches the town's power supply, leading to rolling blackouts for everyone else. Brian and Stewie destroy it with a tank at the end of the episode.
  • The monstromarket featured in the Garfield and Friends short "Supermarket Mania". Ironically, it's both more expensive and has less selection than the local Pop's Mart, but the owner tricks customers into thinking he's cheaper by offering a lot of coupons on his inflated prices.
  • 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. Its success lies mostly with its coupons and huge cash prizes as well as its industrial machinery that can crank out pizzas at a much faster rate than anyone can by hand (which ironically is the reason why they taste so bad).
  • Red Rocket (a front for COBRA, of course) from G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.
  • 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.
  • Johnny Bravo parodied this trope when Johnny's favorite store, the $1.03 store (a mom-and-pop store where everything costs 1 dollar and three cents) is about to close down because of the $1.02 mart that opened across the street, complete with a line going out the door. Apparently saving a single cent is that much of an appeal.
  • Megalomart from King of the Hill. There are several instances of the business trying to absorb another company's main work by buying them into merging with it (other small stores, selling propane (it failed, badly), selling authentic meat) and how it ruins Hank's mundane life one way or another (though there is always a Running Gag about how it actually sells a lot of stuff for less whenever Hank realizes it). Also, Alamo Beer in a few episodes.
  • Largest Ever Pet Shop from Littlest Pet Shop (2012).
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Flim and Flam in the episode "The Super Speedy Cider Squeezy 3000". They at first try and offer the Apple family a deal to sell them their cider press at a 75-25% deal in their favor, and at that point engage in a competition with a winner-takes-all selling right to Ponyville's cider supply. When they start losing the competition, they commence cutting costs that leave their cider full of twigs and rocks, forcing them to leave once they win.
  • The Simpsons:
    • "Sprawl-Mart" is portrayed like this in later episodes. Also, Ned Flanders has to compete against the left-handed giant "Left Mart".
    • One episode has a gag wherein Homer visits Flanders' store and makes a comment about all the Starbucks in the mall. Upon leaving, every store except Flanders' has been replaced by a Starbucks.
    • In "Simpson Tide", 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 while every store behind him has become a Starbucks.
  • Done twice in South Park.
    • In "Something Wall-Mart This Way Comes", 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 and 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. However, all the townspeople then start buying everything from a local hardware store, which expands to meet demand, collapsing the other businesses, and then gets burned to the ground like Wall-Mart.
    • Subverted in "Gnomes"; the local coffee shop Tweek's Coffee (owned by Tweek's father) is threatened when the coffee chain Harbucks Coffee starts a franchise in South Park. However, the episode subverts the usual anti-corporation message by pointing out that Harbucks is successful for a reason - they offer a product with a wide market appeal, and Mr. Tweek's only real defense is that he's a small business owner taking on "The Man". His own product isn't actually very good, and even he has to admit Harbucks is better after trying it. Not that it matters, as Harbucks isnt mentioned after this episode, and Tweek's Coffee remains a South Park institution.
  • Kelpshake from the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Best Frenemies" moves into Bikini Bottom so quickly that their locations divide like cells, threatening both the Krusty Krab and the Chum Bucket. Mr. Krabs and Plankton have to enter an Enemy Mine status to preserve their businesses; unfortunately, the Kelpshakes not only taste bad, they are (implied to be intentionally) addictive and toxic, causing all the locations to be shuttered — and all of the Bikini Bottomites to grow green fur.
  • 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.

Alternative Title(s): Volde Mart