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However no sooner have you moved into your first broom cupboard then the cruel overtones of the game become apparent; slapped with a hefty mortgage, your initial days will be spent performing tasks for Tom Nook the local shop owner, who also appears to have a monopolistic control over the island.
—Review of Animal Crossing, www.totalvideogames.com.
When there's a low number of characters populating a small, communal setting, individual characters will often be assigned roles within the community. Of these, a common one is to have the local economy pretty much completely controlled by a Shop Keeper who runs the only establishment where one can buy and sell goods. In other words, the Only Shop in Town.
Said establishment is usually a small, simple shop (rather than, say, some kind of department store) which nevertheless manages to have a complete monopoly. In other words, it's like a Mega Corp, only scaled down to match the setting it's in. Note that this setting need not be an an actual, literal "town" for this trope to be in effect: whether the shop is in a forest or a city or a crater on the Moon, as long as there are no others nearby it qualifies.
These places rarely have more than one employee: the proprietor, who tends to be The Scrooge and may nor may not be an important supporting character in the work (they won't usually be a central character, however, due to the sedentary nature of their role).
A sister trope to Only Law Firm in Town.
- Ads for stores (and other businesses) sometimes use this trope: characters will be shown to have some kind of problem, and the business being advertised will be presented as if it's the only available solution. Ads for products, on the other hand, avert it: they love to show their "competitors" (usually a Brand X version) and how they're not as good as the product being advertised.
- It is played straight in the Anime Deltora Quest in an episode where we get Tom's Shop where he literally sells everything they need. Assuming they actually speak for the item. (No MacGuffins though, unless this troper is wrong). The shop is situated in the middle of nowhere, making it this trope.
"If you do not ask, you do not get. Is that your motto young sir? Well it is mine too."
- In most of the Tremors movies, Perfection, Nevada is served by Chang's General Store.
- In The Great Brain books everyone goes to the ZCMI Store, the only general merchandise store in town. Abie Glassman decides to open a permanant store, retiring his traveling wagon, but everyone is used to going to ZCMI for everything so nobody patronizes his store. He starves to death.
- In Father Ted John and Mary (the couple who are always trying to murder each other) run what seems to be the only shop on Craggy Island.
- Oleson's Mercantile is the only store in Walnut Grove in Little House On the Prairie.
- Sesame Street's only shop is Hooper's Store, which was run by Mr. Hooper until he died.
- The Scottish village of Balamory (from the children's show of the same name) is one: Suzie Sweet and Penny Pocket run its only shop. To be fair, this is a village with about ten adult inhabitants, with one building each.
- Drucker's Grocery Store is the only store in Hooterville, yet it services two shows, Green Acres and Petticoat Junction.
- Judges Guild'a Dark Tower (1979). Avvakris' Trade Monopoly is the only general merchants supply house for miles around the village of Mitra's Fist, and the only place for PCs to buy standard supplies.
- Dungeons and Dragons. Module I6 Ravenloft. Bildrath's Mercantile is the only general store, not only in the village of Barovia but in the entire domain. The store's owner charges 10 times normal prices and refuses to bargain. As he says, "If you want it badly enough, you'll pay for it - because you certainly won't be taking your business elsewhere."
- Call of Cthulhu supplement The Asylum and Other Tales, adventure "Black Devil Mountain". The town of Indian River only has one general store. When the owner found that the recently arrived NPC Albert Goddard was living on Black Devil Mountain, he refused to sell anything to him and Goddard had to travel seven miles away to the town of Addison for supplies.
- Tom Nook's store is the only one in the player's town in the original Animal Crossing (see the page image). The Able Sisters sell clothes and accessories in the sequels, but Tom Nook retains his stranglehold on the economy, being the only source of Bells.
- The Legend of Zelda plays it straight: each populated area (for example Castle Town, Goron City and Zora's Domain in Ocarina of Time) tends to have its own little shop. Interestingly, they have unique shopkeepers (who have their own lines of dialogue), suggesting that Nintendo saw the shop as an important aspect of each such area.
- Some of the games do it a little differently, however. The Wind Waker has unique shops on a few islands, and the whole rest of the world is serviced by Beedle's Shop Ship. Both are examples of this trope.
- Minecraft has an interesting version, where a player on a multiplayer server will often set up a place to barter items with other players (note that this is not specifically provided for by the gameplay). Most servers only have one, because when the niche is filled no one will found another.
- Likewise, this tends to occur naturally in the Age of Empires games with the Market building. This building lets you buy and sell resources and trade with the other civilizations, but due to the specifics of how it works each civilization will only ever need one.
- Very common in role-playing games, where each town the hero visits will have exactly one market to buy and sell weapons and armor and such.
- Played absolutely straight in Chrono Trigger.
- Averted in Final Fantasy VI, where you find different shops for different items in different buildings.
- Played around in Dragon Age. Some cities get only one merchant but in others you are bound to see many merchants. The dwarven city of Orzammar oozes with them and you get some Dwarven travelers joining your trip.
- In the Seiken Densetsu series we get the Cat Merchants which bring the item selling to various dangerous situations.
- Pokémon puts its own little spin on this: each town only contains one shop, but they are all branches of the Pokémart Mega Corp.
- Averted and played straight by turns in the Shining Force games. Each town usually has one shop for weapons and one shop for healing items and power-ups. Occasionally though both will be sold in one store.
- Played around in Demons Souls. Some maps have more than one merchant but every merchant sells all kind of items (outside the general potion management).
- Averted in Recettear. You are the owner of one of the shops in town and with the merchant credential you get discounts on the different shops in the market. Some shops are referenced even though you cannot see them.
- Lufia 2 has a rather major aversion: there is a shop for items, another for spells and another for general items, in different buildings.
- Zig Zagged in the first Uncharted Waters: in any big port you will have exactly one shop to trade in common goods, one to trade items and treasures (optional), and one to build and sell ships (each located on the exact same spot on the port's Point and Click Map). The second game sometimes has several shops of the same kind per port but also plays it relatively straight for the most part.
- Free Country, USA in Homestar Runner has Bubs' Concession Stand. This is a small structure where one can buy just about anything. Weirdly, no currency ever seems to actually change hands, even when characters "shop" there.
- Not only does Bubs run the only shop in the HR universe, he apparently personally runs every single form of enterprise, from the bar in Club Technochocolate to Strong Bad's Internet Service Provider.
- The tv series based on the Noddy books by Enid Blyton added a doll named Dinah Doll, whose market is the only shop in Toyland.
- The Economy Cast of Fireman Sam includes Shop Keeper Dilys Price, who runs the only shop in Pontypandy.
- Trading posts in remote jungles and such qualify by definition, for example that of J.H. Slick in the Jumanji animated series.
- Likewise Renard Dumont's trading post in The Legend of Tarzan.
- Occasionally happens in rural areas, where a village will be served by one family-run grocery shop. Not exactly common in cities.