Predatory Business

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

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

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

For Real Life examples, please keep in mind that as to what constitutes legitimate competition vs. underhanded business practices differs. In the interest of reducing natter, please confine this to fictional examples.

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

Examples of Predatory Business include:


Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

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


Film[edit | hide]

  • Fox Books in You've Got Mail
    • Possibly subverted: The small bookstore does go out of business, but Meg and Tom fall in love anyway, so it's all good?
    • This trope is definitely in full effect at first. But it is also eventually subverted in that the megacorp is offering cheaper goods, but it still serves the community for the better, as can be seen when Meg Ryan is walking around the store, noticing that groups of adults and children alike are scattered around reading books and having fun. Even though one employee didn't know about the "Shoe" books, there's no indication that they are selling cheap material or using dirty business practices. As Tom Hanks said, "I sell cheap books. Sue me."
  • Buy N Large from WALL-E is pretty much the end effect of this.
    • Also subverted in a weird way. Generally PredatoryBusinesses are criticized for selling cheap, crappy merchandise, but the Axiom and nearly everything on it are incredibly well-built.
      • According to Word of God, the Wall-E units suffered some sort of massive production failure, leaving only one active, which is why Buy N Large decided to give up on cleaning up the Earth.
  • Batteries Not Included had a variation where a corp was trying to buy out the inhabitants of some tenement blocks so they could build a skyscraper in their place. The residents of one block resisted, and the corp started using dirtier and dirtier tactics to get rid of them.
  • Mondo Burger from the old Nicktoons movie Good Burger.
  • Walmart: The High Cost of Low Prices, a Documentary that attempts to prove that Walmart is this trope.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Early example: Ring's Come-one Come-all Up-to-date Stores from An International Affair by P. G. Wodehouse. Local, cosy "Ma and Pa" tea-shop depends on students of local boarding school. Along comes Evil Franchised Store, undercutting them something awful and fully intending to take advantage of the local yokels. Then some plucky students band together, have tea at the New Place, and secretly take something that makes them really sick, thus giving the New Place a reputation for food poisoning.
  • Subverted in Emile Zola's Au Bonheur des Dames, where the owner of the aggressively expanding corporation is the protagonist. It doesn't prevent Zola from pointing out (with impressive foresight) how such stores tend to drive their less competitive neighbors out of business.
    • And the owner is a manipulative bastard who plays on humans baser instincts.
  • The Store, a horror novel by Bentley Little. A large corporation places "The Store" in the protagonist's home town and things go downhill from there.
  • Speedy Mart, from the Kitty Norvil series by Carrie Vaughn. The owner of the chain creates natural disasters with magic. Kitty's bounty hunter friend that tried to kill her once saves the day, with help from a century old ghost. It makes sense in context.
    • The stores themselves appear to be clean if a draw for paranormal activity. It's just that the chain exists not to do business but to cover the movements of and provide (what are effectively) "arms caches" to a very high priced contract killer. It's left unspecified whether the chain is subsidized by the proceeds of criminal activity (which would indeed let it unfairly compete).
  • In the Barry Trotter parody series, the Voldemort stand-in Lord Valumart fits this trope by selling magical goods to the Muddle world.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In Lottery!, a small mom and pop grocery store finds itself facing a major supermarket opening up across the street. They refuse to be bought out and they are about to be crushed, but the Intersweep Lottery rep comes to tell them they won over a million dollars. Armed with this sudden windfall, the family decides to fight fire with fire with the supermarket and enters a competition war is so fierce that the supermarket chain's owner investigates and he turns about to a friend of the small store family and a compromise is reached.
  • This trope was examined on the "Wal-Mart" episode of Penn and Teller Bullshit. Penn argues that Wal-Mart's growth is the natural end result of capitalism, and that demonizing Wal-Mart is unfair.


Newspaper Comics[edit | hide]

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


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

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


Video Games[edit | hide]

We represent Pizza Dinosaur
We've got the most stores in the world
Our crust is tough and our sauce is thin
But we're everywhere so you gotta give in!
Mona Pizza's got nothin' on us
'Cuz we've got six-thousand-stores-plus!

  • In Persona 4, Junes is regarded as one, though it's more a parody of Mega Corps. Its poor reputation (though people still shop there even while blaming it for driving small shops out of business, similar to people in Walmart in real life) has several long-reaching effects; the most obvious is on party member Yosuke, who happens to be the son of the manager.
  • Pizza Bat in No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, which has hurt the local fast food places like Burger Suplex.
  • Ben Jordan: Paranormal Investigator has this as "Bean There, Done that".
  • If your income drops too low in SimCity 3000, you may be propositioned to build a Gigamall in your city. By doing so, you'll earn a steady income which can keep you in the black, but like all the business deal buildings, there's a catch: The Gigamall torpedoes the development of your own commercial sector.
  • In Hyperdimension Neptunia, there's a company called Avenir, a technology factory who owns a majority of the business on Lastation, and has used its influence to crush its competition and garner protection from Parliament, preventing Neptune and her friends from entering the Basilicom.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • 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[edit | hide]


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Done twice in South Park.
    • While Wall Mart is the physical shell of an Eldritch Abomination, the boys make the argument that if the citizens of South Park really don't want it to succeed over the local "mom & pop" stores... stop shopping there. This is reflected by the core of the Wall Mart being a mirror, so the boys (who were told to destroy the core) see themselves in it. So then they just break the mirror which causes the Wall Mart to collapse into itself.
    • Subverted in the episode for Harbucks Coffee. Most of the episode involves a small coffee shop owner, Mr. Tweek, trying to keep Harbucks from imposing on his business, including forcing the four main characters to rally the town around him. Then it turns out that Harbucks actually does make better coffee than Tweek's when the townspeople finally get around to tasting it, and Mr. Tweek is even able to get a good job working there instead.
  • 6teen had Tajma-home-video, doing essentially this to smaller video stores.
  • Megalomart from King of the Hill. Also Alamo Beer in a few episodes. However, after the Megalomart is blown up and rebuilt it stops being this.
  • Superstore USA from Family Guy.
  • Red Rocket (a front for COBRA, of course) from the original G.I. Joe.
    • Cobra Industries in G.I. Joe: Renegades is made of this, although their pies are better than homemade. Their bagel-dogs aren't bad either.
  • The monstromarket featured in the Garfield and Friends short "Supermarket Mania".
  • "Sprawl-Mart" is portrayed like this in the later episodes of The Simpsons. Also, Ned Flanders has to compete against the left-handed giant "Left Mart".
  • One of the Veggie Tales 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.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • WalMart and other "big-box" stores are pretty much what inspired this trope, whether true or not. In fact, this page used to be called Volde Mart, a portmanteau of WalMart's name with that of Lord Voldemort.
  • Car and tire companies were accused of this in the early 20th century, mostly due to the demise of the electric urban streetcars. Fear of people not buying their products basically encouraged one of the earliest examples of Predatory Business. They would buy urban streetcar companies, then liquidate them to eliminate the competition. Fines for such were proposed... but they were able to get them all down to a dollar. Each. (Part Predatory Business, part Screw the Rules, I Have Money.) [1]
  • Companies such as Monsanto have come under fire and have been seen as this by local farmers, due to neighbouring farms using seeds patented by such companies as these. Unfortunately, the patents are on self replicating products - meaning that if pollen from a patented plant blows over from a neighbouring plot into yours and starts producing a certain patented genotype or trait... they CAN sue you. Even worse for "organic" farmers since they can not only be sued by Monsanto, but the unintentional hybridization with genetically modified crops renders their own crops non-"organic", driving them out of their niche market.
  • Australian retail giants Wesfarmers and Woolworths seem to be taking their cues from WalMart, as Hungry Beast explains here.
  • Here is a list of examples from recent history, presented by Cracked.
  • Several of Michael Moore's films deal with this phenomenon in the United States