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The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday

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Marge: Eugh! Homer, where did you get that ugly thing?
Homer: From that little shop right over there—(Points to an empty lot, where sand devils whirl. He gasps in disbelief, then corrects himself.) Oh, no, wait, it was right over there.
Shop Vendor: (waving) You'll be sorrrrrrry!
The Simpsons, "Treehouse of Horror II: The Monkey's Paw"

You know the place. It wasn't there yesterday. But right now, there's a shop there that looks like it came out of Charles Dickens—or maybe H. P. Lovecraft. If you go inside, you'll find a quirky old shopkeeper who has any number of potentially magical - and potentially inconvenient - artifacts available for sale. Cheap. Today only. Just what you were looking for - although you may not have known you were looking for it when you came in. In fact, these items may look just like any other shop merchandise, but they frequently have some weird supernatural properties.

Just don't expect it to be there tomorrow. Especially if you need a refund...

Originally a literary device from the surge of weird fantasy writing in the 1920s and earlier—H.G. Wells used it in The Crystal Egg (1897) and The Magic Shop (1903)—The Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday still turns up occasionally. Nowadays, it's often a website. Frequently an element of the modern Creepypasta; when the store is virtual, it overlaps with A specific version of Revealing Continuity Lapse. A Mobile Kiosk has a good reason for being this.


Compare with:

  • Big Store: Mundane cousin of the Little Shop; a facade of a store set up to trick somebody.
  • Circus of Fear: Another instance of a liminal space between the fantastic and the mundane, but the Circus is expected to be ambulatory.
  • Grail in the Garbage: This is what one often finds in these kind of stores. Keep in mind that this is not necessarily a good thing for the customer.
  • Inn Between the Worlds: Another impossible place that's almost always stumbled across rather than deliberately sought out, but at Inns the payoff for visitors is usually decent enough drink and/or food, good company and good stories rather than material trinkets. Disclaimer: where you wind up after visiting is not necessarily the proprietors' responsibility. Check the rules of the establishment carefully.
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: The protagonist tries to prove to someone else that this little shop (or other plot-relevant location) exists, only for the entire building to vanish without a trace.
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  • Magical Library: An enchanted library or store where you can get books, often staffed by a Magic Librarian.
  • Vanishing Village: A whole town that wasn't there yesterday and won't be there tomorrow.

Contrast with

  • Bazaar of the Bizarre: Another place to get your esoteric shopping done, but it's rarely even accessible to mundanes—who are the clientele the Shop seems to prefer.
  • Traveling Landmass: Also hard to find—and even harder to find on purpose—but generally a traveling landmass is known to travel and/or be weird, whereas it's key to Little Shop stories that the protagonists have never heard of the shop and have no reason to expect it to be magical.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In ARIA, Akari winds up in a cafe that is usually only open to cats. Sure enough, when she walks out it appears to have been long abandoned.
  • Played with in Cardcaptor Sakura with the Twin Bells shop. The toy shop itself and its origin is not supernatural (although it did appear almost overnight), but the plushes it sells mysteriously disappear from the house of whoever bought them and reappear at Twin Bells. This raises suspicions on the owner committing theft, but the poor woman actually has no idea what is going on. Naturally, the culprit is a Clow card, and once it's dealt with the shop can operate normally, subverting the trope. It even makes a couple more appearances afterwards, showing that it's thriving.
  • Chocolat no Mahou has a variation in the form of a chocolate shop, run by a mysterious girl named Chocola and her black cat, Cacao. The variation is that the shop will still be there tomorrow, but most of Chocola's clientele first find the shop by accident - and if they were actively looking for it in the beginning, it takes them a long time to find it.
  • The Old Clock Store Owner's shop in Digimon Xros Wars: The Young Hunters Who Leapt Through Time. It's suggested it's part of DigiQuartz instead of the real world, and thus isn't grounded in our reality and shifts dependent on DigiQuartz.
  • Despite its standing as a science fiction anime, in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex one episode involved one of these. However, said shop was a memory shop. It's main purpose in the story was to give some of the Major's backstory and foreshadow later events.
  • In Ghost Sweeper Mikami there is a mysterious shop. Yakuchindou is a shop, which specializes in cursed items, exorcism goods, and regular antiques. Yakuchin is the owner of Yakuchindou, a store that deals with many magical items. He is a pervert and very greedy, often overpricing his wares if he has the chance. Mikami frequents his shop for Ghost Sweeper equipments such as Absorbing Talismans and Reitai Bowgun bolts. Yakuchin keeps many dangerous products that can be considered a liability, and when he gets a new item he doesn't mind using customers as test subjects to see if the item is safe for sale, as he did with Yokoshima the first time they met.
  • Hell Girl: Each episode typically follows the format of a self-contained short story where a person has been suffering torment from an acquaintance to the point that he or she accesses the Hell Correspondence website (that is available only for one minute at midnight)and submits a request to get rid of the person. Ai Enma, the Hell Girl, appears, and presents a doll with a red string on its neck that can send the named antagonist to Hell. When the string is pulled, Ai and her companions then torment the antagonist, offering a last chance to repent (which is usually refused), and ferries them to Hell. The price of the contract is that the person making the request will also have to go to Hell after his or her life is over.
  • In "Let's Play With Sounds!" from Hello Kitty & Friends: Let's Learn Together, Kitty and her friends discover a music shop in what should be an empty lot. They end up putting on a concert with the shopkeeper of a slightly jazzier version of the show's instrumental opening theme tune, "Star." Afterwards, they find themselves alone in front of an empty lot of grass and wonder if it was All Just a Dream, but then dismiss this possibility and say that they must have been visited by the spirit of music.
  • In Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch Pure, there were two instances of this, both set up by the villains. One was a videoke house (that somehow had the heroines' songs in their list), and a fortuneteller's tent. Both in the same place, but not at the same time, of course. One character even noted it.
  • In Naruto, Jiraiya sneaks into Amegakure and sets up a pub on one of the lower levels of the city to lure in two Amegakure ninja. He plays the role of barkeeper before throwing off his ridiculous disguise, then the pub turns into a toad.
  • The eponymous pet shop in Pet Shop of Horrors tends to stay in one place a bit longer than most of the listed examples, but still has the ability to vanish mysteriously overnight, and fits the trope precisely in most other ways.
  • Ranma ½
    • In one of the stories, Kuno purchases a phoenix egg from such a shop.
    • Akane went to a similar shop and got a recipe and ingredients for a magical snack food (but she messed up the recipe and it tasted awful along with doing the exact opposite of what it intended).
    • In the anime, a number of mobile versions of these show up — to be precise, traveling salesmen who sell magical stuff. There's also an anime-exclusive antique store with a haunted bra (the owner of which asks them to guard it from the underwear thief), and Ryoga in the manga has a weird knack for stumbling across magical stores.
  • Chapter 2 of the Read of Dream manga features a library that wasn't there yesterday. It only appears once every ten years, and you can only take out one book at a time. But when you die you can spend eternity reading what seems to be every book in this and any other world. Just so long as you return every book you borrow.
  • The trope is perspective-flipped with the Western Cuisine Cat Restaurant of Restaurant to Another World: the restaurant is based in a modern Japanese shopping district, but manifests a number of Portal Doors in a fantasy world every Saturday. In defiance of the usual mystery surrounding the trope, the restaurant's chef makes quite sure to inform his otherworldly customers of the weekly schedule, ensuring that they'll be able to return for more without having to search in vain.
  • Contrary to popular belief, this didn't show up that often in the Sailor Moon anime. While Jadeite had a habit of creating businesses from thin air and staffing them with a thematically appropriate youma, most of the other villains on the show simply took over existing businesses until they were uncovered by the Sailor Senshi. In one case, though, Palla Palla created a dentist's office in SuperS, which did turn out to be another business like Jadeite's. Even Jadeite occasionally just infiltrated pre-existing businesses.
  • The Boar Hat in The Seven Deadly Sins comes off as this to people who don't know beforehand that it is actually a bar carried by a giant pig.
  • Yuki buys an antique coffee grinder at one of these in Silent Möbius. The shop is actually a front for a Lucifer Hawk (demon, basically) that sends her back in time, setting up a slightly strange romance and Stable Time Loop.
  • Tamamo-chan’s a Fox!: A benign version pops up in chapters 56 and 57. Tamamo's human friends Nakki and Mikki come to visit her at a cafe where she is now working part-time at. Tenko is there and mentions being a regular, while the owner mentions not having customers like Nakki and Mikki around much. The end of the chapter reveals the shop's true form is a small shrine and the cafe is one for various gods.
  • One of these traps Sasami in an episode of Tenchi in Tokyo. (Although, neither she nor Tenchi had ever been in the area before, so nobody knew that the shop was magical.)
  • Video Girl Ai: Later in the story, the Store Clerk at Gokuraku Video rebels against their cynical intentions, and opens a rival Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday, Neo Gokuraku, whose goal is to find and protect the pure hearted before Gokuraku Video can screw them up.
  • Kaede gets the coffee mug that starts off the whole Wagamama Fairy Mirumo De Pon! series, but only in the anime. In the manga, her mother gives it to her as a souvenir from her recent trip.
  • This is the type of store Yuuko the Dimension Witch runs in ×××HOLiC, although it deviates slightly from the norm in that it will be there tomorrow. The key to being able to see and enter it, however, is that you must have need of Yuuko's wish-granting powers. Presumably this is very convenient for dealing with encyclopedia salesmen. She does eventually say that the shop was built specifically for the sake of helping Syaoran and Sakura-hime of Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-, racking up magic credits from the wishes she grants until the day they needed to be used.
    • There's also an oden stand run by Kitsune. Watanuke only finds it because of his ability to see spirits and it vanishes after he finishes his meal.

    Comic Books 
  • One of the Egmont stories in The '90s in Disney Ducks Comic Universe — "The Backdated Lucky Charm" — had Donald stumble into one of these stores, a bookshop, where he purchases a book on making lucky charms and then when he tries to learn more about it, finds out it's missing when he returns.
  • Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol had an entire street made of nothing but Little Shops That Weren't There Yesterday. Also, the street is a transvestite. It Makes Sense in Context. Or not.
    • Specifically, Danny the Street, the sentient traveling locale. Later on known as Danny the World, Danny the Brick, Danny the Cabana, and finally, Danny the alley.
  • Dylan Dog has Hameln's shop, that appears and disappears at Hameln's whim (though there are people who can track it down), usually in the same place. At least one story has the shop appear and disappear on page multiple times, one of which in a phone booth, as Hameln had hired Dylan to track down a powerful magical artifact that had been stolen from him and he was really desperate to have it back before the guy who he was supposed to sell the artifact to lost his patience.
  • Barter from DC Comics (from Hawk and Dove Vol 3 #1(June, 1989), first appearance) is the owner of a Dimensionally mobile Pawn Shop. The modest sign above his shop says: BARTER TRADING/Exotic Goods and Services. Inside the dimly lit pawn shop lay a potpourri of antiquities and merchandise, eccentric and cosmic in scope: A Green Lantern power battery. Demonic scrolls. Weapons from Apokolips. Ruby slippers. Vials filled with churning smoke labeled "youth" and "courage" and "love". A Legion flight ring. A lava lamp. The inventory constantly changes. None of this is for sale. Barter gives these things away— but he takes something in exchange. Another object. Information. Ten years of life. A first-born son. Never money. Barter doesn`t buy or sell— he trades.
  • Subverted in the 90s version of DC's Starman. Jack (Starman, on the run from the Bad Guys) ducks into an alley and discovers a fortune teller's shop that he's never seen before. He thinks it's something like this trope... until the fortune teller explains that she's been there for a few months, and there's nothing mysterious about Jack not noticing.
  • One issue of Urbanus, "Het Zwarte Winkeltje" (the little black shop) had this kind of shop appear whenever Urbanus was close by.
  • This is where Aldo of Venerdì 12 finds the cursed carillon that ends up turning him into a monster. In a variant from the usual, the shopkeeper did warn him of the curse in detail, including how he could defeat-but Aldo, being in deep denial about Bedelia loving him (the curse's trigger being giving the carillon to a girl who don't love him. Bedelia didn't love him. At all), ignored him because the carillon was free.

  • In Altered Histories Harry buys some rather expensive pamphlets from a store called Meryl's Misunderstood Magical Minutia which is replaced by an empty, dilapidated building the moment after he leaves.
  • "Curios" Taylor Hebert works for the literal devil in one of these shops and improved buisness by using full disclosure regarding both the benefit and curse(s) and helping people find exact what they want.
  • In Diaries of a Madman, Navarone and Taya are guided to one of these in their travels. Unlike many cases, the store owner explicitly points out the nature of the shop and that the pair will never see it again - and provides them with a book which sucks the erstwhile readers into Apocrypha, along with one or two other useful items. It's implied that the nature of the shop is intended specifically to keep Discord from finding it, but this may not be true.
  • "Keep Your Change" has the main focus being a retired Random Omnipotent Being selling things that change people. Early on the shop was shown to have the ability to move.
  • The Non-Bronyverse has less of a shop there, and more of a single unicorn proprietor who sells TD the staff Reginald for a song.
  • In One Thread Pulled Harry buys his wand at a store which vanishes immediately after he and his family exit it.
  • In the Pokémon fanfic Rotten Luck, when Jonathan eventually decides to head back to the antique store where he bought his blue statuette, he finds only a vacant lot where the shop's building used to stand.
  • "Shopkeeper" has Taylor Hebert as the owner of a video game styled shop that comes off as one of these due to filtering who can and can not enter. It is implied it is hereditary.

    Film — Animated 
  • Played With in Brave: Merida is lead by the wisps to the cottage of a witch posing as a woodcarver. Her store is completely innocuous except for the talking crow and magic broom, and she won't entertain the possibility of even being a witch, let alone conjuring for someone, unless you buy a wood carving first. After she leaves the cottage, Merida immediately finds herself back in the stone ring that the wisps found her in. After Eleanor is turned into a bear, Merida assumes that this trope is in effect, and that she'll need the wisps to lead them back to the witch, while Eleanor simply goes in the direction Merida said she went last time. Eleanor's plan works.

  • A variation in Crossworlds. When Laura first takes Joe to A.T., he sees a large workshop. Later, he goes back to the building alone, but when he knocks on the door, he sees that it's an ordinary apartment with a different guy living there. He's about to leave, then he remembers that, the last time, they passed a certain tree on the other side. He does that and finds the shop in place of the apartment. Presumably, A.T. set up his shop to only be accessible to someone who knows the exact route to get there (or by accident).
  • From Beyond the Grave, a 1973 episodic horror film from Amicus Productions. The shop keeper (Peter Cushing) sells cursed antiques to four different customers, all (but one) of whom end dead before they could return them.In the final scene, Cushing breaks the fourth wall and attempts to sell something to the audience; the camera escapes and the shop door closes.
  • Ostensibly, this is where Gizmo the Mogwai was purchased in the first Gremlins movie.
    • In the sequel, the shop gets bulldozed and replaced by the little skyscraper mall that wasn't there last week.
  • Hellraiser:
    • In Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth, Monroe acquires the Pinhead artifact from an obscure antique shop in New York, who obtained it from Dr. Channard's private collection in England. When Joey goes to investigate, the shopkeeper has packed up and moved.
    • A similar situation occurs in Hellraiser: Hellseeker, where Trevor acquires the box from a sweatshop/black market that quickly disappears.
  • In the film version of Needful Things, the proprietor turns out to be the devil.
  • In the 1984 The Neverending Story, the bookstore from which Bastian gets the book is empty and abandoned as if for years when he returns. In the original book, the store is still there, although the storekeeper says that he has never seen the book that Bastian took.
  • The plot of the 2016 Gender Bender comedy Sam is set up by one of these. Sam, the Handsome Lech protagonist stumbles across 'Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe' and the shopkeeper decides to teach him a lesson after hearing Sam's less than positive views on women. The shopkeeper offers Sam some 'tea', Sam leaves and the next morning wakes up in a female body.

  • "Books" by Peni R. Griffin (Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, November 1991): In downtown San Antonio there is an interdimensional bookstore, Brock's, where the protagonist's female friend gets him books to read while he is in the hospital-—books written by Harriet Vane, Ariadne Oliver, and S. Morgenstern. After he recovers, she takes him there and he notes a customer trying to buy Cultes des Goules. An accident to the bookseller cuts him off from the store and his friend.
  • Lord Dunsany's "The Bureau d'Echange de Maux": This 1915 Short Story features a little shop in Paris where, after paying an entry and brokerage fees, customers may exchange whatever "evil" or burden they feel they have for a burden possessed by someone else. The curious protagonist, despite the urgings of the Obviously Evil proprietor, carefully chooses a minor trade — he trades away his propensity to become seasick and takes on another man's fear of Elevator Failure. Other people make bigger trades — for example, one customer was able to trade the burden of being about to die for the "burden" of continued life. Potential customers can visit as often as they like, but once a trade is made, a client will never find the Bureau again, so they're stuck with whatever exchange they made.
  • Patrick Skene Catling's The Chocolate Touch: This children's book has a boy who loves chocolate to the point of obsession buy some from a little shop he never saw before... It gives him sort of a "Midas touch", in which everything he eats is transformed to chocolate as it enters his mouth. Even a chocolate lover can grow quickly sick of it when he can't even have a drink of water. But even worse is what happens when he gives his mother a kiss...
  • "The Cloak" (short story) by Robert Bloch: It is Halloween and a man named Henderson is looking for a costume. The shop owner in this case offers him the cloak — not a cloak, but the cloak — and once Henderson puts it one, he is a new man — or is he? Later adapted as one of the segments in the Anthology Film The House That Dripped Blood.
  • "Cold Print" (1969) (short story) by Ramsey Campbell: Sam Strutt has a yen for esoteric literature. His search for forbidden knowledge leads him through dingy backstreets to a basement bookshop advertising “American Books Bought and Sold.” On his second visit... a macabre many-mouthed creature made an occult proposition that cooled his blood.
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld:
    • The Light Fantastic:
      • Twoflower reveals that the ill-tempered, sentient piece of luggage he's been travelling with came from one of these tavernes vagrantes, or "mysterious wandering shops" (he asked for "traveling luggage" and got Exactly What It Says on the Tin).
      • The characters stumble into a shop whose owner was cursed by a sorcerer note  who had an unpleasant retail experience. The cursed shop must wander around and in and out of existence, never able to stay in the same place for long. It becomes a very convenient way for the group to get back to Ankh-Morpork in a hurry, as the shop is able to just materialize on an empty wall there.
      • The characters Discuss several alternate theories about the phenomenon. For example, one explanation is that a race of highly advanced alien merchants learned to escape the heat death of their universe through dimension traveling technology. note 
    • Soul Music: A mysterious little music shop that was always there (but wasn't always there yesterday) is actually still there the next day. When two of the characters comment on this (and one insists the shop was on the other side of the street last time), after they leave, the strange old woman who runs the shop says, "I'll forget my own head next," and pulls a lever... at which point the shop moves across the street. The little old woman's eyes glow green as she does so.
    • The Wee Free Men: Defied Trope when Tiffany exits a witch's tent and refuses to turn around to look at it, because "either it would still be there, which would be disappointing, or it wouldn't, which would be worrying".
  • "Djinn, No Chaser": In this 1982 story, shopkeeper Mohanadus Mukhar tells the shoppers outright that his shop will only be there for " long I do not know."
  • Ray Bradbury's "Doodad": This Science Fiction Short Story features a man on the run from The Mafia (or equivalent) helps a man who turns out to be a shopkeeper of such a shop: it sells "gadgets, gimmicks, doodads, doohingeys" and so on, which are composite imaginary tools capable of doing anything that any item ever described by that name can do.
  • Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser: One of the novellas is set in the Bazaar of the Bizarre. It's a shop set up by an extra-dimensional being.
  • Glen Cook's Garrett, P.I.: In Deadly Quicksilver Lies, Garrett exits the witch Handsome's shop without asking her a question he should've. He immediately turns back, but the shop entrance has vanished. Garrett isn't surprised, figuring it serves him right to be denied a second chance to ask.
  • Goosebumps: The Haunted Mask formed a Story Arc with several other stories. The eponymous mask was always purchased from the Little Shop (which had conveniently closed when the unhappy owner attempted to return). During The Scream of the Haunted Mask, the shop had previously vanished entirely, leaving behind an empty plot of land.
    • Literally, in several endings in The Little Comic Shop of Horrors. In one of them you escape the mysterious comic shop and learn that the comic book store was closed years ago because the owner Milo died.
  • Edmund Crispin's Gervase Fen: The basic premise of The Moving Toyshop. It's a detective story, so there's a logical reason of course.
  • "The Greater Festival Of Masks": The mask shop seems to be one of these, although it is probably one of the least mystifying things in said story.
  • The Haunting Hour Volume One: Don't Think About It: The shop from which Cassie purchased the book was located down an alley, changed its room layout to prevent her from leaving until she made the intended purchase, and disappeared soon after. The owner did stick around long enough to give them a cryptic clue as to how to deal with the thing that had been unleashed. And to remind her that she had broken the first rule of the book...
  • Tim Pratt's "Impossible Dreams": A movie buff discovers a Video/DVD store in another reality where differing history has led to different movies (The Magnificent Ambersons is available in its uncut form, but Citizen Kane is a lost film, there was only one Indiana Jones movie and it starred Tom Selleck, there is a big-time director who doesn't exist in our world, etc.); in an interesting subversion, everything he can get out of the store is useless due to interdimensional regional DVD differences and such. Oh, and only nickels are legal currency in both worlds. And in a further twist the movie-buff store clerk finds our reality, with its different media, an enticing alternate universe.
  • A short story from an old issue of Isaac Asimovs Science Fiction had a dentist who noticed a new donut shop on the way to work and bought some. When he dunked them in milk (his personal donut-eating technique) they sucked all the milk into the hole with incredible force. After some examination he determined that they were mobius donuts, with a half-twist in them. With a little experimentation with some extracted teeth he had in his office, he realized they really, really liked to "eat" calcium and he considered what would have happened if he had taken a bite. He went back to the store and jammed two donuts together whereupon the store disappeared fairly spectacularly.
  • In Knight Life, Gwen gets The Carpathian Book of Fey and Daemonfolk from one of these. She learns where to find it from Arthur Penn's secretary "Miss Basil" (a basilisk), who tells her of a little bookshop she's never seen before, even though she knows the area quite well.
    Gwen: I know that street...that block. I've walked past a hundred times. There's no bookshop there. Is this some kind of trick?
    Miss Basil: ... ... Tell me, have you ever been looking for it?
    Gwen: No. How could I look for something that isn't there?
    Miss Basil: All you have to do is not look where it isn't.
  • Bruce Sterling's "The Little Magic Shop": In the early 19th Century, a young man stumbles on a little shop in New York. The proprietor, Mr. O'Beronne, presses on him several magic items, finally persuading him to buy a bottle of youth potion in exchange for all he possesses. "Really? How much for two bottles?" They strike a bargain: Whenever the man comes back he can buy another bottle on the same terms. This doubly frustrates the shop owner: He has to stay put and keep his shop in business (changing it with the times), and his customer stubbornly refuses to learn the obvious Aesop about the futility of unnaturally prolonged life. Despite all this, there is a happy ending for both.
  • In the Liavek shared-world anthologies, the shops all stay decently put, but an entire street, Wizard's Row, comes and goes, as well as changing its appearance in accordance with the whim of the magicians who live there.
  • H.G. Wells' "The Magic Shop", which also isn't accessible to just anybody. Given a more sinister adaptation for The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (see Live-Action TV below).
  • Bruce Coville's Magic Shop: This series is related due to each protagonist going to "Elives' Magic Shop", on account of the proprietor being a man named Elives. The children leave with powerful magical relics. The Aesop behind each item tends to be that they've been given what they want, but it's been subverted in a way that teaches them what they need.
    • Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher: The title character buys a dragon's egg from the magic shop, which he then finds out he has to hatch. (Actually, the egg chose him. Dragons apparently have the power to attract their own prenatal egg-sitters.)
    • Jennifer Murdley's Toad: A girl enters the shop and ends up buying a pet toad. The shop owner didn't warn her that said toad could talk, and was not only a smartass, but also had a bounty on its head — or more accurately, in its head.
    • In Juliet Dove, Queen of Love, an extremely shy girl named Juliet goes into the store, but instead of the old man we have come to expect, a strange woman gives her a necklace — which can't be removed. It's the amulet once owned by Helen of Troy, and has the same effect on all the boys in Juliet's class...
    • "The Metamorphosis of Justin Jones": In this Short Story, a young man who expresses interest in the metamorphosis stage trick (where the magician switches places with his assistant) is given a bag and an instruction manual. The instructions say to sleep in the bag every night over a certain period, and when he complies, he starts to grow wings. This story is actually one of the few times where what the character wants from the shop more or less matches up with what the character needs, because he happens to live with an extremely abusive uncle...
  • The Midnight Arcade series is about a magical video arcade that appears in place of an out of business arcade when an adventurous kid passes by, and then transports them into the game they decide to play.
  • Poul Anderson used the Old Phoenix tavern, an Inn Between the Worlds, as a Little Shop That Wasn't There Yesterday in more than one of his fantasy stories, notably A Midsummer Tempest.
  • H. P. Lovecraft's "The Music of Erich Zann" features a variation of this trope: the protagonist is never able to find the street he lived by ever again, after the events of the story, despite of the fact that he had a normal landlord, and the street had many other inhabitants, as well.
  • Stephen King's Needful Things: The building itself was there yesterday and will be there tomorrow: it's run as a perfectly normal small town curio store, complete with "coming soon" signs before the grand opening and regular business hours, plus Tuesdays and Thursdays by appointment only. Less suspicious that way. (It does tend to be inconveniently closed at odd hours with a different sign in the door every time.) Of course, given that the story is by Stephen King, the question is: Will the town still be there by the time all is said and done? The answer is, "No." This was the last Castle Rock story, for just that reason.
  • Diana Wynne Jones's The Ogre Downstairs: A funny old man sells strange science kits that do magical things. He also sells bright pink footballs. At the end of the story, his shop has vanished - or more accurately, been bulldozed. Even so, it's awfully convenient, don't you think?
  • La Peau de chagrin (French pronunciation: ​[la po də ʃaɡʁɛ̃], The Skin of Sorrow) is an 1831 novel by French novelist and playwright Honoré de Balzac (1799–1850). Set in early 19th-century Paris, it tells the story of a young man who finds a magic piece of shagreen that fulfills his every desire. For each wish granted, however, the skin shrinks and consumes a portion of his physical energy. La Peau de chagrin belongs to the Études philosophiques group of Balzac's sequence of novels, La Comédie humaine.
  • Alfred Bester and Roger Zelazny's Psychoshop is a pawnshop, accessible from apparently any time period or place in the galaxy, "where you can dump any unwanted aspect of your spirit as long as you exchange it for something else". And, oh yeah — all exchanges are final. The Psychoshop is actually a lot more benign than this trope usually is, though.
  • "The Shambler from the Stars" (1935)(Short Story) by Robert Bloch: The story focuses on a nameless narrator who begins to yearn after the forbidden knowledge known only to those who are true practitioners of the occult. He then personally begins searching various bookstores around his hometown. At first, he again meets with disappointment, but his perseverance eventually pays off and, in an old bookstore on South Dearborn Street, he succeeds in obtaining an occult volume known as De Vermis Mysteriis, which he knows was written by a Belgian sorcerer named Ludvig Prinn, who was burned at the stake during the witchcraft trials.
  • "Shoppe Keeper": Harlan Ellison attempts to explain the phenomenon of the mysterious shop in this 1977 Short Story.
  • 'Sideshow', and Other Stories: Played with in "The Astronomic Blur", a Story Within a Story in which a small shop that no-one had previously noticed is suddenly inhabited by... something.
  • "Spell My Name with an "S"": A numerologist (a type of fortune-teller) who suggests Zebatinsky change his name to Sebatinsky. After a couple of months, Sebatinsky returns to thank the numerologist, but the store is empty, and has been for many years. Then the point-of-view shifts, and we learn that Energy Beings betting on human beings are the reason for the shop and his name change.
  • Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger: The Day of the Dissonance: The Shop of the Aether and Neither is located in a town that can't be found unless it's really needed. After shoppers have departed, it promptly vanishes and takes the village with it.
  • The Star Trek universe has The Captain's Table, a pub that appears on various planets, is accessible (or visible) only to Captains, and appears to exist outside of time (one inhabitant is very strongly implied to be the Captain of the Titanic (yes that one)). It has been encountered by Captains Archer, Kirk. Pike, Picard, Sisko, and Janeway, as well as Captains from the Expanded Universe, like Calhoun, Gold, and Riker.
  • Bentley Little's The Store: A nice little patch of land turns up bulldozed one day. Despite a dead guy under some knocked-over trees, the eponymous store is built and all kinds of horrors, mundane and supernatural happen. Anything can be bought, if you ask the right questions. From the oddly possible, powerful firecrackers for a nickel, to the insanely impossible, such as a video game called NiggerKill. Eventually the whole place goes cockeyed, the villains seemingly defeated but...a small farmer's market several hundred miles away terrifies a traveling couple.
  • Jennifer Barnes's Tattoo: Bailey, Delia, Annabelle, and Zo go to a Cart In The Mall That Wasn't There Yesterday. An old woman is selling temporary tattoos. These tattoos give each of them a different power. It is revealed that the old lady was the goddess of the sea, trying to get Bailey to realize that she is The Chosen One.
  • Terry Carr's "Touchstone": In this 1964 Short Story (link here), Helgar asked if this is one of those magical shops, but the proprietor dismisses the notion quickly.
    Randolph Helgar: If I come back here a week from now, will this store still be here? Or will it have disappeared, like magic shops are supposed to do?
    Shopkeeper: This isn't that kind of store. I'd go out of business if I kept moving my location.
  • John Dashney's Walter The Weremouse features an old lady, a secret reading room in a library, some strange phone cards, an eleven key on payphones, and some strange cheese, all of which appear only under very specific circumstances. The old lady is at the center of it all, and she eventually turns out to be the daughter of a renowned supernatural expert, and terrible procrastinator; she's the daughter he never got around to having, the reading room is full of books he never got around to writing, and in fact he never got around to becoming renowned or even a supernatural expert. She appears to people who make up the dregs of society, but nonetheless have the potential to be something much more if only they were able to get around to it, and gives them the means to get around to it.
  • "What If— (1952)": A rare Traveling Salesman example; when Mr What If has finished showing the protagonists an Alternate Universe where they didn't meet on the streetcar, he completely disappears, as if he hadn't been there to begin with.
    Liwy said with sudden sharpness, "Where's Mr. If? [...] he wouldn't leave his hat." And she bent to pick it up.
    Norman said, "What hat?"
    And Liwy stopped her fingers hovering over nothingness. She said, "It was here-I almost touched it."
  • "What You Need", by Lewis Padgett (writing team of Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore): Despite the protagonists not noticing the store before, the proprietor insists that he's been there before; it's just a very low-key place.
  • Jack Williamson's "With Folded Hands...": This novelette features the protagonist of the story (a dealer in ordinary, garden-variety, non-enslaving-the-human-race-for-our-own-good robots) is walking home one day and finds a new competitor has sprung up overnight, a robot store run by the Humanoids.
  • "Wo and Shade, Importers" in George R. R. Martin's "Sandkings". It has a number of curious goods inside, but the story's protagonist (a Jerkass rich idiot who loves dangerous pets) is only interested in the eponymous Sandkings, tiny insect-like creatures that form armies and war with each other, creating castles adorned with sculptures of their owner's face as if in worship. The story mentions that Wo and Shade have shops on multiple planets, and Martin intended to use them again in other stories, but, well, didn't.
  • William F Wu's "Wong's Lost and Found Emporium" is about such a shop from the point of view of the shopkeeper.
  • World of Heart's Desire by Robert Sheckley (also called The Store of the Worlds(variant)) In a post-nuclear war world "the shop of the worlds" is a store in a small shack (constructed of bits of lumber and parts of cars) at the top of a mound of gray rubble, where you can travel to an alternative reality to fulfill deepest desires At the cost of 10 years of your life.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour named "The Magic Shop", based on the H.G. Wells story. The shop appears, the owner gets a boy interested, and later the shop and boy disappear, and the boy is returned, different, years later.
  • Amazing Stories, "Mr Magic": Old-timer Lou Bundles, once a world-famous magician, is now fumbling every trick, and desperately purchases an amazing old deck of cards at a small magic shop in hopes of going out in a spectacular display of legerdemain.
  • Sardo's Magic Mansion from Are You Afraid of the Dark? was a recurring setting in several episodes.
    • There was a magically appearing store in a Deal with the Devil episode, where the more magic stuff a girl bought from the owner, the uglier she became. The Agony Booth did a recap of this one.
    • The toy factory in "The Thirteenth Floor".
    • It's a bit of a subversion, since Sardo has no idea how to actually do magic or how the stuff in his shop works. He's just the middleman. His shop being mobile is probably something in the store beyond his control.
  • Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction has a story of a very very shallow woman going into an independent salon, and is talking to the stylist about appearances. And the stylist speaks about a connection between appearances and personality. The woman ignores her, but then gets infuriated when the stylist makes one tiny mistake. She screams about how she's going to use her wealth and power to shut the place down. In which the stylist curses her to "Have a mirror to one's soul" which to put it simply, her appearance will reflect her personality. The woman laughs it off and leaves, but the next day she wakes up very ugly. So she goes back to the shop only for it to be all closed up and abandoned.
  • A Bit of Fry and Laurie has a little roadside flower stand that wasn't there yesterday. Its owner is mysteriously capable of discerning that it's evening, even though he's not wearing a watch.
  • The villain (Ethan Rayne) in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Halloween" opens a costume shop that sells items bewitched to make their wearers actually become the things they dressed up as.
  • The Colbert Report: Invoked by Stephen in this segment. Stephen concludes that things keep going wrong in the cleanup of the Mexican Gulf oil spill because someone keeps making wishes with a cursed monkey paw bought in such a shop.
  • Doctor Who. In "Face the Raven", it's revealed that trap streets (fake streets placed in maps as copyright protection) are actually this trope, protected by "misdirection circuits". It's possible to stumble into them accidentally (for instance if you're talking on your mobile phone) but those deliberately looking will pass them by without notice.
  • Friday the 13th: The Series follows Micki and Ryan, owners of an antiques store, and their friend, Jack Marshak, as they try to recover cursed antiques, to put them into safety in the store's vault.
    • Lewis Vendredi made a deal with the devil to sell cursed antiques. But he broke the pact, and it cost him his soul. Now, his niece Micki, and her cousin Ryan have inherited the store... and with it, the curse. Now they must get everything back, and the real terror begins.
      • — prologue that opened the first episode of the third season
  • Hikari Photo Studio in Kamen Rider Decade is an odd example, since it's also the main characters' home and the hub of their inter-dimensional travel. It also seems to replace an existing shop as long as it's in any given world, as evidenced by the brief Running Gag of natives entering, looking around, and asking "Wasn't this a coffee shop?"
  • Not so much a shop as potential employer in Malcolm in the Middle. After eavesdropping on a coworker's phone interview, Hal took off to a building he'd never been to before for a new job. He'd never remembered it being there before. He went through a lot of weird trials and tests as part of the interview (say, spy-type stuff), and when he decided against the job...the entire building was gone the next day.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "Alien Shop", Andy Pace runs into Sewell Lane in order to evade the cops, having attempted to steal from an undercover officer, and finds a strange curio shop. The shopkeeper, who is secretly an alien shapeshifter who was sent to Earth as a penance, offers him a wallet. When he later goes to the pub Dentry's, Andy finds that money that he doesn't have keeps appearing in the wallet. He quickly realizes that when he touches someone, all of the money that they have on them appears in his wallet as if by magic. As time passes, Andy becomes increasingly greedy. When his drinking buddies Red and Joe and the Dentry's bartender Phil win $43,000 on a football bet, he touches all of them to congratulate them and all of the money appears in his wallet. However, there is another unintended side effect as a delighted Red announces the melanomas on his hands caused by skin cancer have disappeared. Andy is horrified to find that they have appeared on his hands. He runs back to Sewell Lane to find the shopkeeper but he instead finds a brick wall in place of the shop. The skin cancer spreads all over his body within minutes and he drops the wallet as he has finally realized that it is more trouble than it is worth. As soon as he does so, Andy finds himself back at the moment that the shopkeeper first offered him the wallet. He tells the shopkeeper that he has finally learned his lesson. The episode ends with him and Gabby happily pushing their newborn baby along the street in a stroller.
  • It also showed up in a Christmas Episode of Punky Brewster.
  • Happens in The Real Hustle and it often works like this. Customers find a brand new phone store has opened selling phones extremely cheaply; but the catch is that the store doesn't keep the phones so it'll take a day or two for the phone to turn up, you still need to pay upfront but it's extremely cheap...even cheaper if you pay via card. Of course by the time they come back to the shop it's gone and if they were unfortunate to use their card it's been cloned.
    • One of the cons actually relied on the mark knowing this. Some guy on the phone talks about this valuable plate he found at this booth in the flea market, except he didn't have enough money to buy it. So he describes the plate and asks the friend he's talking to bring some money and buy the plate. The mark overhears the conversation, and goes to buy the plates themselves. The plates, of course, are worthless, but the con wouldn't work if the mark didn't know the booth would likely be gone by the next day.
  • The club where all the beautiful people are from Seinfeld.
  • This was the basis for the Sharon, Lois, and Bram's Elephant Show episode "Curio Shoppe". The titular shop sells magical antiques that let the trio live out their daydreams. When they go back to show Eric Nagler, the shop is gone.
  • Michael Scot used this ruse in the first episode of Shoebox Zoo, to the bemusement of nearby builders.
  • Strange Frequency 2 (2002 TV Movie), Story #1, "Soul Man": is the story of a guitar tuner who wants to be a rock star and finds a sheet music that is supposedly the unpublished last song of Jimi Hendrix in a music curio shop. The keeper of the store warns the guitar tuner that playing the music will summon up the devil, but he doesn't listen, and he buys it anyway.
  • The Little Shop showed up — played lightly for laughs — in Tales from the Darkside's teleplay of Harlan Ellison's short story "Djinn, No Chaser".
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Wong's Lost and Found Emporium", based on the short story by William F. Wu, the eponymous shop is magical and the entrance changes location. Some people stumble on it while others have to commit years of diligent effort to track it down. David Wong finds it in the backroom of a porn shop in San Francisco after three years of searching, Mrs. Whitford finds it in Fort Lauderdale and an elderly man simply found himself there after a doctor's appointment. The emporium contains lost hopes, dreams, chances and attributes that people seek to regain. David Wong is searching for his compassion, Melinda for her sense of humor, Mrs. Whitford for lost time and the elderly man for the respect of his children. Each lost attribute appears in a glowing ball, which everyone except the intended recipient can see, and takes the form of a physical object or animal. The recipients must follow the instructions on the label to benefit from it.

    Tabletop RPG 
  • 1001 Science Fiction Weapons, for OGL, has the Witherslant Masters opening a strange little black plastic store whenever the GM thinks of it; there is no reliable way to summon one. It could appear anywhere, even over an existing building. Inside there is a minimum of furniture, all in black plastic, with a plastic droid behind the counter. The store is stocked with strange black plastic energy weapons, however these, and the droid, are only simulations composed of projected energy, preventing theft. Characters can test the weapons, an impossible firing range extending upon command well beyond where the back of the store should be; the droid doesn't mind the customers testing the (incredibly powerful) weapons on him (in which case a new droid will appear to complete the transaction) or each other (the weapons seen may only be simulations of the products, but the bloodbaths can be very real). The prices are not quoted in money, but in violence - customers agree to perform multiple contract killings per year, the targets of which could be anyone, at the conclusion of which the item is mysteriously delivered. there is a weapon available, but not advertised, whose price is to kill the one the character loves most.
  • Dark Dungeons RPG, supplement Samaris, Island of Adventure. In the city of Southport there's a small magickal shop called the Bizarre of the Bizarre. It can only be found at night, and even then only sometimes. Those who find it can buy the most wonderful gifts and items of all. Unfortunately most visitors never realize that these objects are mere delusions hiding worthless junk. Or are they?
    • One rulebook for the Scarred Lands setting introduced The Midnight Peddler. While not truly a shop, it was the same idea; this fiendish creature was a peddler who appeared in cities at midnight on foggy nights, and someone who bought his wares might gain a boon or a curse, depending on their luck. (In game terms, buying something from him gave a character a randomly chosen temporary bonus or penalty to an Ability Score or some other stat.
  • Discussed in GURPS Magic Items 3 as an excellent trope to get magic items from, although it also notes the dangers of your players not taking it seriously. The book more or less defines it as an Undead Horse Trope; one which keeps going even though subversions and parodies are numerous enough to form their own subgenre.

  • A shop like this is where Seymour buys Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors. He even says the Trope Name almost verbatim.

    Video Games 
  • The title rural New England town of Anchorhead has one (complete with odd old shopkeeper), which is also the source of a key artifact you'll need to win the game.
  • Cardmaster Conflict has the Mysterious Shop, which only lasts one turn, but you can use it to "buy" cards from your deck with Mana.
  • Discworld:
    • These shops appear in the game Discworld II: Missing Presumed. While inside, you can witness the shopkeeper pulling a lever. Once you leave, you are in another part of Ankh-Morpork.
    • Discworld MUD: There's a traveling shop which sells some very rare items, and is useful for getting to distant locations.
  • The Black Emporium from Dragon Age II, run by the immortal Xenon the Antiquarian. Only those personally invited are able to find the shop, however Xenon warns if they decide to get rid of the charm he gave them, they will be rendered unable to do so, even if they already know where it is. (Fortunately in terms of game mechanics the "charm" is not an actual item and cannot be lost or disposed of, so it's impossible to lose access to the Black Emporium this way.)
    • It should be noted that the Templars do occasionally manage to make their way to the shop with the intent of burning it down and destroying the many odd and dangerous items inside (it's never clarified if they're led there by a current customer or stumble across it on their own). What actually winds up happening is Templars being squashed flat by golems.
  • Throughout the Persona series, there's a place called the Velvet Room. The long-nosed man who runs it, Igor, can fuse Personae together for you. Only the main character can even see its door, and it appears in the strangest places, such as under the stairs of a karaoke bar, next to a book small town bookstore, or down a side street in a shopping district.
    • But in Persona 1 and 2, everybody could enter it. Also, everybody could change Personas.
  • Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire has Mirage Island; the chance that it appears is the same as winning a Master Ball in the daily lotto, except that boxed Pokémon don't count. If you actually manage to get there, you'll find a bush with a single Liechi Berry (the best Berry for Pokeblocks) and a LOT of wild Wynaut.
    • The remakes have Mirage Spots. One is guaranteed to appear once a day after Steven gives you the Eon Flute (the only way of getting to one) but one also disappears once per day; more appear if you interact with other players. The Mirage Spots have rare Pokémon (legendary or otherwise), TMs, and Evolution Items. However, there's no way to predict which will appear on which day.
  • Time Hollow has not only the store that wasn't there, but also the store that used to be there... and some other Fridge Logic moments
  • The World Ends with You does this with one of its missions; namely, a competing ramen shop opens up and somehow closes in the span of one day. Somewhat subverted, as you can get the ramen shop to reopen depending on certain actions later in the game.
  • World of Horror has one crop up in "Rotten Report of Rancid Ramen": a restaurant that becomes insanely popular overnight, with customers acting obsessed with the food. Suspecting shenanigans, your protagonist decides to try and determine just what makes the ramen so disgustingly addictive.

  • In Dragon Mango, the guard asks Pumpkin whether her shop is one of these. She's not sure it isn't, but she does have a permit, so everything's okay.
  • In Full Frontal Nerdity, Frank buys a super-blender from a Costco kiosk, which turns outto have disturbingly supernatural blending abilities:
    Nelson: Let me guess, the kiosk where you got it is gone, Costco has never heard of Vivablend, and their website brings up a 404 error.
    Frank: But the purchase still shows up on my credit card bill, somehow.
    Nelson: There are no refunds for monkey's paws, dude.
  • Parodied in El Goonish Shive in the 'Goonmanji' arc.
  • HERO does not have any little shops that weren't there yesterday. However, it does have an enormous oceanic base-on-stilts that wasn't there two seconds ago.
  • Memoria: The house in The Lost Woods may not have appeared, but it's certainly not there when the police check out it.
  • Merryweathery made a small comic about these shops, specifically noting to NEVER GO IN ONE.
  • MSF High: Subverted: While Donovan's sword is said to be an ancient artifact wielded by a destined hero bought at one of these, it was revealed to be made by the Magic Teacher, who runs her own company!
  • Parodied in a Rhapsodies Christmas Episode, where Kevin finds a perfectly ordinary sandwich shop that wasn't in the middle of a Bazaar of the Bizarre yesterday.
  • In Sluggy Freelance, this is unproven but there's reason to guess it applies to the magic shop from which Torg bought the evil talking rabbit Bun-bun. Considering the shopkeeper was really a Trickster God in disguise who was specifically out to deposit Bun-bun somewhere in an amusing way, and who resides outside of time, the shop may well have been created ad hoc too. It was there for long enough afterwards to say "no refunds," though.
  • xkcd has made a running theme of Beret Guy doing most of his shopping at them:
    • In strip #1772, Beret Guy claims he buys groceries from stores like this, and his startup considers the idea of disrupting the industry.
    • Subverted in strip #2332. Beret Guy tried to return a supposedly cursed office chair, but the store was boarded up... because of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
    • And in strip #2376, Beret Guy makes a phone call: "Hi, is this the shop that sells cursed items but when you try to return them the shop is gone?" "Yes, how can I help you?"

    Web Original 
  • The Barber has a Barbershop that wasn't there yesterday.
  • There is a Creepypasta story about Super Mario 64 where the protagonist buys his copy of the game from a strange website advertised in a pop-up ad. The website is gone by the time he starts experiencing...problems...with the game. Read it here.
    • Similarly, Ben Drowned has its protagonist getting a haunted Majora's Mask cartridge from a garage sale. When he comes back to talk to the old man he bought it from after the game begins acting... strange, he finds that his house is for sale. Really, this trope seems to be common in creepypasta about video games.
  • In the Creepypasta "Welcome Home", there is the cozy little bakery "Welcome Home". Similar to "Needful Things", the building and lot are there already, Maria just moves in and spruces it up a bit. And when she gets what she came for some of the local children whom she renders into fresh ingredients and paint she vanishes, leaving the now-empty building the ruin it was when she first arrived.
  • In an episode of The Hidden Almanac, one opens in the city and sells mysterious items to several people with cryptic instructions. On catching wind of this, the authorities shut the place down and confiscate the items.
  • While Artax of Metamor City started as an homage to the “Spells R Us” wizard, his magic shop was stationary until a misunderstanding with an intelligence agency in ‘’Things Unseen’’. Then he starts hiding in plain sight by teleporting the shop to a different mall or strip every night (helps that it’s bigger on the inside.)
  • One of Those Shops is an experimental branching Round Robin writing project whose premise involves the main character ending up as the owner of a Little Shop.
  • SCP Foundation;
    • Foundation Site 19, according to one of the propositions for SCP-001.
    • The people that SCP-385 was confiscated from are implied to have purchased it at one of these.
    • SCP-1940 is a bizarre example, a shop that will appear in any enclosure, from an abandoned house to someone's sock drawer, and materialize a salesman who will try and sell everything inside the enclosure to passers-by. Any claims to the property inside the enclosure will be met with paperwork demonstrating that the enclosure and everything in it is property of Light Courier Enterprises. What's worse, any merchandise bought from the store will cause another instance to appear within six hours.
    • SCP-4828 is a Spell Book discarded from a man who claimed he bought it from The Multistore from Nowhere and Everywhere that appeared on the edge of his town.
    • SCP-1472 is an interdimensional strip club that appears in an empty building for a few hours every Saturday night.
  • Googling "Spells R Us" yields a huge number of stories that fit this trope, and usually have male characters getting objects that turn them into girls. These are based on a series that was started in the 90s by "Bill Hart".
  • In this online short, the protagonist gets his time-travelling sandwich from a mysterious shop run by a decidedly shifty hunchback. Of course, the shop and hunchback do get visited again...kind of.
  • This trope is a rather popular concept among branching Round Robin writers. Two of the largest interactive branching round robins, the Anime Addventure and the Unending BE Addventure (both contain material that is NSFW, especially the latter; BE stands for Breast Expansion), even have some storyline threads (often involving Ranma ½ characters, appropriately enough, the anime addventure has a much higher proportion of relatively normal action/adventure or non sex-related storylines) where there's an entire street filled with all manner of different Little Shops That Weren't There Yesterday, usually including Spells R Us. And sometimes Stephen King's ''NeedfulThings'' too.

    Western Animation 
  • In Adventure Time, the episode "Blade of Grass", Finn & Jake find a hut made of grass, where Finn purchases a sword made of grass that he finds out is unpleasantly enchanted. The next day they return to find it is gone.
  • Parodied in The Amazing World of Gumball. Richard can't find the store he bought a turtle from... because it was actually a van. On the other hand, the owner of that van sells a number of mysterious and sometimes dangerous things, including that same turtle (which is a Nigh-Invulnerable biting machine), a reality-warping universal remote, and Darwin (before he grew legs).
  • The pilot of Clerks: The Animated Series has both the Glossy Shopping Mall That Wasn't There Yesterday ("That's new.") and The Towering Skyscraper That Wasn't There Yesterday ("I find it hard to believe no one noticed that either."), mainly to illustrate how stupidly oblivious the townsfolk are, especially when you consider the fact that both buildings (and the tents covering them) are gigantic and hard to miss. The Skyscraper remains, but the Mall soon disappears... less because of magic, and more because Jay and Silent Bob blow it up.
  • In "A Circus Town Christmas," the Christmas Episode of JoJo's Circus, the Circus Town Perfect Present Store appears in Circus Town. As the teacher Mrs. Kersplatski explains, "The wind blows it in, then blows it away again!"
  • In Kim Possible, Ron's parents adopt a child from the Adoption Agency that Wasn't There Yesterday. By the time Kim and Ron realize his sister has super powers, it's a newly-opening pet store. Fortunately, despite her super strength, Hana is friendly and benign (toward the protagonists, at least.)
  • Played with in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Magic Duel" and the shop where Trixie acquires the Alicorn Amulet. The shopkeeper certainly fits the trope, as do the curios of the shop.
  • The Ben 10: Omniverse episode "Store 23" features The Mr Smoothy Franchise That Wasn't There Yesterday. Although there's nothing sinister or mysterious about what it sells, it does take Ben to an Alternate Universe where he can learn An Aesop.
  • Deconstructed, along with Be Careful What You Wish For, in the Rick and Morty episode "Something Ricked This Way Comes". Summer got a part-time job at a newly-opened vintage thrift store called Needful Things, run by an eccentric gentleman who always knows what his customers desire. Rick immediately figures out that Mr. Needful is actually The Devil himself, who gives him a golden microscope with a curse that would have made him stupid. Unfortunately for the devil, Rick is able to use his mad science to figure out how to detect, analyze, and counteract curses, and he opens up his own store across the street where he removes curses, leaving the items with just their beneficial magic. For instance, an aftershave that makes a man irresistible to women, but also leaves him impotent? Rick pairs it with a cure for impotence. Rick makes a ton of money, and Mr. Needful is so humiliated that Summer has to talk him out of suicide. Then Rick gets bored and burns the place down.
  • The Simpsons, of course, parodies this in one of its Halloween episodes. See the quote above.
    • Referenced in the episode "Brick Like Me" (S 25 E 20 overall #550), which is set in a world of Lego bricks. Lego Homer sees Regular Homer in the mirror and asks Marge if she bought the mirror in such a store.
Homer: Marge! Did you replace our regular mirror with a magical mirror from a mystical salesman at a weird store that if we went back to find it it wouldn't be there anymore?
Marge: No.
  • Treehouse of Horror III (Season 4, Episode 05 (Episode Overall 064))(Story #1 and story #3)
    • Story #1: "Clown Without Pity"
Bart: Hey Homer, where's your present?
Homer: D'oh! I mean... D`oh-n't worry son, I forgot to get you a present. But I swear on my father's grave—
Abe: Hey!
Homer rushes off to the nearest convenient `House of Evil' "Your One Stop Evil Shop". He asks the very old Asian owner who appears out of the shadows if he sells toys.
Owner: We sell forbidden objects from places men fear to tread. We also sell frozen yogurt, which I call "Frogurt!"
Homer tells the owner that he is looking for a present for his son's birthday. The owner hands to him a talking Krusty doll. "Clown Without Pity" is based on the Twilight Zone episode "Living Doll" and the films: "Trilogy of Terror" and "Child's Play". The same monkey's paw mentioned above appears in the background of the shop, resting on the counter.
Owner: Take this object, but beware it carries a terrible curse!
Homer: [worried] Ooooh, that's bad.
Owner: But it comes with a free Frogurt!
Homer: [relieved] That's good.
Owner: The Frogurt is also cursed.
Homer: [worried] That's bad.
Owner: But you get your choice of topping!
Homer: [relieved] That's good.
Owner: The toppings contains Potassium Benzoate.
Homer: [stares]
Owner: That's bad.
Homer: [worried] Can I go now?
  • Story #3: 'DIAL "Z" for ZOMBIES'
Bart gives a book report in front of the class.
Bart: From A-Apple to Z-Zebra, Baby's First Pop-up book is 26 pages of alphabetic adventure!
Mrs.K: Bart, you mean to tell me you read a book intended for preschoolers?
Bart: Well, most of it.
Mrs. Krabappel orders him to find another book to review. In the school library, Bart is unimpressed with the latest `Where's Waldo' book (``Man, he's not trying anymore!'') He looks around and notices the Occult wing of the library.
Bart: Gee, I never notice that before.
Bart enters holding a candle chosen from a human skull. A volume flies out from the shelf, striking Bart on the head.
Book: [Title: ``The Time Life Book of Magic and Spells, Vol.II'' Bart opens the book and four apparitions appear from the pages]
Apparitions: Evil!...EVIL!...MADNESS!...Beware!...BEWARE!
Bart: Cool! [slams book shut]
Book: Oww!...OWWW!...oww!...OWWW!
  • In the Teen Titans episode "Mother Mae-Eye'', Cyborg bought the pie that the title character comes from at a shop like this, owned by a creepy looking old gypsy woman. (Who may have been Mother Mae-Eye herself; the two looked similar.)

    Real Life 
  • The not-so-sad tale of Kajmaster Kajet's friend Big Wes (starts at 1:08), who got tricked into buying a demo of Wild ARMs 2 for $30 from a dealer who vanished under mysterious circumstances 10 minutes later.
  • Without the mystical elements, it's not too surprising to see various shops come and go within the malls and various single-landlord shopping complexes in America.
    • Same with franchised stores.
    • Also, there are the travelling peddlers who display their wares at touristic places, who never settle in the same place for long.
    • It's not uncommon for stores to open and close down within a month in southeast Virginia. A lot of these types of shops pop up in malls peddling airbrushed t-shirts, which despite their prevalence don't actually seem to be in high demand.
    • During the fall season, Halloween-themed costume shops such as Spirit and Halloween City sweep through the cities and towns of America only to disappear a week or two after Halloween.
    • Another example common in America: within a week of New Year's and the Fourth of July, in the rural areas of the Great Plains, there will suddenly be a massive number of tiny wooden booths set up in cornfields by the roadside, where you can buy any number of supposedly legally obtained fireworks over the counter from someone who always appears to be either a mechanic or a farmhand. After a week (if not exactly, then almost so), they will disappear without a trace. Occasionally, if you're very lucky, you can see the dark, faded, carved-out husk of one of these little shops of joy standing empty in the middle of a cornfield in August, looking perfectly jolly.
  • Pike Place Market in Seattle has a section designed for rummage sales, and another section for itinerant vendors ("day stalls"). The labyrinthine architecture of the Market also lends itself to having shops and stores that are easy to miss, especially in the "Down Under" section that specializes in curios.
  • London's Camden Town is home to the Stables Market where shops can appear and disappear for the same reasons as Seattle's Pike Market.
  • New Orleans has the French Market, a market of many different things such as food, clothing, and hand made goods. New Orleans is particularly known for its voodoo culture, which makes it quite creepy when you buy an item from the French Market (such as a voodoo doll) and return later on to see that the stand you purchased it from is gone. In this case it is likely similar to Pike Place and London's Camden Town. Vendors may not show up the next day due to lack of stock or recent lack of sales or even recent spikes in sales.
  • The Gift Of Christmas radio special used to have a segment with a woman talking about when she was a girl and wanted to buy her mother an ornament for Christmas. When she went to buy it, a dollar had fallen out of her pocket, making her a dollar short of the ornament's price. The guy behind the counter said that he was conveniently about to mark the ornament's price down from $3 to $2, so the girl could afford it. When she and her mother went to thank him a while later, they found out that the store closed long ago.
  • There have been stories of literal ghost motels, whether one believes said stories is up to them. Such as one story where a couple stayed in a motel, and it was completely empty, but the atmosphere was so creepy that they eventually left. Coming back the next day, the building was gone entirely.
  • Happens on-line all too often. It's either:
    1. A scam - particularly frequent with companies offering free trials of their latest, most awesome anti-virus - or...
    2. A small-scale seller who just did it as an experiment and got sick of it after all his wares sold out (often on eBay and Amazon)
  • On the Internet, of course, you can buy digital games and software from a business that didn't exist yesterday. And when you find that you've been thoroughly ripped off, you can bet it won't be there in an hour when you go to ask for your money back.
  • A less sinister concept that has come in vogue as of the 2010s is the pop-up store, which is a purposely temporary business that only lasts for a limited amount of time, normally for some special event like Halloween or Christmas.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Little Shop That Wasnt There Yesterday


Right over... there

Homer experiences this trope...

...or rather, a subversion if it.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheLittleShopThatWasntThereYesterday

Media sources:

Main / TheLittleShopThatWasntThereYesterday