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Editor: The Blacksmith & Anonymous_Neko
Rinkage: Here’s another chapter for this month from Mana. There’ll be another one before the end of this month.
Chapter 54 – The smell of deceptive business talk
"I bought 10 metres of it on a whim, but… how do you put it… it's gorgeous. Too gorgeous. It should be able to sell for quite a lot, but there's no one to sell it to… The only rich person I'm acquaintances with is the mayor, and he doesn't seem like the type who liked gorgeous things like this… Other than that, there's Jephthah? It might be possible to do business through Hetty too… Hmm…"
The black fabric I had purchased targeted for the upper class people flowed out of my hands. While there are many fabrics that are considered gorgeous out there, the first one that would come to anyone's mind would be this. Fabric so glossy it glimmered like the surface of water – velvet. This was the product I had decided to take on the rich people.
It was a bit of an exaggeration to say that, since the choice itself was based on a rather simple thought. The first fabric we imagine royalty from the medieval ages was velvet after all. So surely it must be high class and expensive here too! That was my thinking, anyway…
Well, there was also the fact that velvet was a fabric that had been around for a while, so there wasn't as much danger of being investigated.
Since a lot of the latest fabrics would be difficult to sell in another world.
The printing technology in this world was at best, woodblock printing. That in itself had a certain flavour to it, which made it somewhat popular as is, but there was still something different about it when compared to the perfectly uniform print of Japan. That was why I didn't sell them.
Breathable waterproof fabric.
The latest material that repels water while letting water vapour pass through. A famous brand of which would be Gore-Tex. Fabrics like that. While its functions drew a line with normal waterproof plastic, there was no need to sell such high-quality fabric. "It lets vapour through! You won't feel stuffy!" couldn't make much of a sales pitch in a place where plastic didn't even exist. Plus, it was expensive. That was why I decided against it.
Similar to plastic, and too early for other-worlders. Immediate rejection. Or rather, I didn't even want to sell plastic.
Well, the fabric shop didn't sell much waterproof breathable fabric and enamel fabric to begin with, so perhaps I could become a leader of non-patterned fabrics?
Speaking of fabrics I didn't sell, that included leather and synthetic leather too.
To put it bluntly, the quality of leather in Erishe was as high as you would expect from another world and much cheaper than Japan. There were many varieties too, to the point that I wanted to import them to Japan instead.
Any other fabrics, I'll gradually start selling them over time.
They say that winter will come once the "Monster Wave" period passes, so the demand for warm clothes may increase. I could sell yarn or ready-made scarves, gloves, leg warmers or beanies.
The best option would be to bring heat packs over and just sell them as is.
For now, the matter at hand was this velvet.
In Japanese, it would be written as heavenly goose cloth. Read as tengajuu or biroudo or something. It was introduced to Japan at the beginning of the Edo period, so there's no doubt it was made from natural materials.
Well, it wasn't as though the customers inspected each and every material used, so it didn't really matter if there were any synthetic fibres such as polyester, nylon, acrylic, rayon and polyurethane.
For the record, the velvet in my hand was 100% Cupro. Yep, totally synthetic. It felt wonderful to touch.
"…And so, I'd like you to look at this fibre. What do you think?"
"It's really… beautiful…"
I showed it to Diana while shopkeeping at the stall. It seemed that Diana saw it as beautiful too. The cultural gap in values could be unexpected at times, so it was good to check.
…Though Diana's aesthetic sense wasn't entirely reliable either.
"Are you putting this in the store? A lot of people would want this."
"This fabric… it's called velvet, and it's too gorgeous to sell like regular fabric. It's not like I can price it the same as plain cotton either."
Right now, the main product of the store was plain fabric purchased at 500 yen per metre and sold at 10 el—in other words, 1500 yen. The other products were also stocked at three times the cost, adjusted so that they didn't make too much profit…
The velvet was purchased for 2,850 yen per metre (it was slightly more expensive than normal as it was bought from a specialist shop online rather than a bargain sale). Three times that would be 8,550 yen or 57 el.
57 el. In other words, five nickel coins and seven bronze coins. If paid for with a silver coin, four nickel coins and three bronze coins would be needed as change…
If all 10 metres were sold at the converted cost price it would be 570 el. Not even one gold coin.
I don't really want to sell something this gorgeous at that price, to put it bluntly.
I'd like one gold coin at the very least, maybe two if I was being greedy.
"I'll keep selling here for now, then try selling it once I've made some richer customers. It's not like it'll spoil or anything, so there's no rush."
However, the buyer appeared later that day.
◇ ◆◆◆ ◇
In the afternoon, Rebecca-san and Hetty-san came to help.
Hetty-san was in Erishe doing backup work for Diana… or so the story goes, but there was no need for them to be together all the time, so she could move rather freely. I don't know what she normally does, but sometimes Rebecca-san will say "I'm drinking with Hetty today~", so she must be living a carefree life. Being the maid of the Solo family must be nice.
"Oh, you two are just in time. Have a look at this fabric. What do you think?"
"…Oh my. That's some fabric."
"…T-This shine… it's a wonderful item, Jirou-sama. An item like this can't be found around the imperial capital. Is it from the mountains… or is it produced in Erishe? You can't underestimate the craftsmen around here…"
"That's right… can't see this in the imperial capital… wait, I have seen it somewhere before though…?"
Thank goodness. Even to Rebecca-san and Hetty-san, it looks like a good item.
If it was like this, then I could price it as I liked. As long as I had someone to sell it to.
"Come to think of it, will Jephthah come visit here again soon?"
I asked Hetty-san.
"Eh? Ehm… master will be here soon, I think. Probably."
"That seems kinda vague. Hasn't anything been decided?"
"That's right. He leaves everything to me."
Is that so?
That day, we decided to round up everything and close shop at 2 to go drinking.
I sent Diana to make the bank deposit (without guards, but accompanied by Rebecca-san and Hetty-san) and was cleaning with Marina when someone familiar approached.
The usual jangly necklace and rings.
A vest decorated with gold embroidery.
Loose silk pants.
The overwhelmingly strong musky smell.
Dragging along brawny warrior slaves.
It was the chubby imperial city trader-kun I saw at the guild before.
I had already messed up his first impression of me… I didn't really want to be seen doing cheap business in the corner of the market…
Thinking that, I turned my back to him so I wouldn't be seen. But perhaps Marina's Turk lineage made her purple hair stand out, or he had already decided on his path from the beginning, as he wandered closer while grinning anyway.
I'd never forget the Chubby that kept sending dirty glances at Marina.
"Oh my oh my oh my, what do we have here? If it isn't the Turk tribe that merchant took some time ago. What's wrong? Why is a Turk tribe on the roadside like this?"
What a fake guy. This is a street stall, of course we'd be on the roadside!
Were this guy's parents killed by the Turk tribe? He was sure obsessed.
"We're doing roadside sales, as you can see. Do you have a problem with that?"
"No? No no no, I have no complaints. Since people like you keep the economy circulating. Ah, do you know the word 'economy'? It's a word that used often in the imperial capital."
"…No, I know the word economy."
"Oh~ as expected of the esteemed merchant of Erishe. Earning petty change on the roadside—oh, excuse me. To think that young people like you would know the word 'economy'."
Chubby spoke while making grand gestures. All his movements were so unnatural, it was like watching a play… I guess other worlds are just like this. His clothes even looked like they had jumped out of a Shakespeare play.
However, this person had said we were "earning petty change on the roadside". I haven't been looked down on so pleasantly in a long time. There was someone like this in the management of my black company era. "Can you figure this out, Ayase? A 20% discount off 160,000 and a 60% discount off 320,000, which is more worthwhile? Can high school graduates do calculations like this? Hmm?" I was made a fool of often like that…
"So great imperial trader-sama, why have you carried your legs all the way to this lowly market?"
"I'm just killing some time. The person I'm meeting with in Erishe is arriving late. Large markets like this don't exist in the imperial capital, after all. It's quite messy and interesting. To look at, at least. Ha ha ha!"
He always has something more to say.
He had shot one glance at our products, but as he said, he truly didn't seem to have any interest in anything other than looking. Well, he said he was a merchant, but I have no idea what this chubby guy sells, so it could be possible that his interests just didn't match.
…But he did seem loaded.
…He might make a good customer to sell that to. He wasn't local, either.
I stopped Chubby from leaving as he laughed.
"Since you came all the way from the imperial capital, how about buying a souvenir? I just received something rather rare today. I was thinking of selling it to the mayor or a noble, but… well, this works too."
Although he stopped moving, he had a dubious look on his chubby face. The shadows of that permanent grin on his face were also there.
"Oh my. You're either really brave, or really ignorant… There's no way I'd buy a souvenir in a place like this, don't you think?"
He seemed a little irritated. Well, to him, I was just a lowly roadside salesman yelling "Buy some souvenirs!" at him. In reality, that was exactly it.
"…If you have any eye for items, then yes."
I answered as I took the velvet fabric from my bag.
You couldn't miss the instant the look in Chubby's eyes changed.
"What do you think? Isn't it a wonderful item? There shouldn't be many items like this in the imperial capital. You can touch it with your hands if you want."
"H-Hmm… This is rather surprising. It's true that you don't see fabric this glossy in the imperial capital often. …Where did you get this?"
"Of course that's a trade secret… is what I'd like to say, but I've mentioned it before That I had an elf slave. Thanks to that connection, I started taking products from the elf village… Ah, do you know where the elf village is? It's quite a famous place in Erishe."
I returned his comments vengefully.
It's true that I have an elf slave, but the elf village was a lie.
However, from Chubby's point of view, the elf slave was also a lie, so the elf village was just sarcasm attached to it—and it showed in the way his face flushed red with blood rising to his head.
…The thought had crossed my mind before, but this person really gets excited easily.
"H-Hmm… I see, I see. It seems like my studies are lacking too. To think items from an elf village were in circulation… As a merchant, I'd love to get my hands on a piece of that."
"Unfortunately, the elf village has an exclusive contract with me. Ah, but you can buy wholesale from me though. So what will you do? With this fabric. I'll give you a discount if you buy it right now."
There's no way I'd give a discount, though. You have to charge what you can!
"Exclusive, huh… You have a spiritual contract? With the elves."
"Huh? Yes, that's right. A spiritual contract."
"I see, I see. Well, putting that aside, I will purchase the fabric. It'd be a good material to tailor a dress and gift to my wife."
This guy has a wife? I guess since marriage happens early in this world, it wasn't too strange. Especially for the son of a large merchant, arranged marriages were also possible.
"How much is it, then?"
"Erm, like I said in the beginning, this is a rare item that rarely leaves the elf village… Thus, the price isn't cheap. Well, it should be pocket change for a large merchant from the imperial capital, though."
Now, how much shall I wring out of him?
One or two gold coins? It was already a ripoff to charge two gold coins for 10 metres of this fabric at 30,000 yen—
"You can have it for 6,000 el."
I went all-in.
Six gold coins. 900,000 yen.
The doubt showed on my own face. If I couldn't keep a poker face in times like this, I was still an amateur. I'd get used to it eventually, though.
It seemed that even a great merchant from the imperial capital would be surprised by this, as he hesitated for a moment before letting out a sigh.
"6000 el is barely what I have on hand at the moment, but it's not the amount I expected to spend in a place like this. Weren't you planning on selling it for much cheaper?"
Chubby diverted the topic to haggle a lower price.
"Of course not, I was planning on selling it for much higher. But in order to forge a good relationship with the great merchant from the imperial capital, I am trying to learn more."
"I see, I see. Then it can't be helped. If you say we'll be seeing each other again, I'll buy it at your price this time. Ah, I'm glad I had enough on hand."
"Thank you very much! I look forward to doing business with you again."
And thus, that was how I successfully sold a fabric I purchased at 28,500 yen for 900,000 yen!
There will be a celebration tonight!
◇ ◆◆◆ ◇
I received six gold coins in one sale. A slow and steady income was good, but earning a ton at once wasn't bad either.
Chubby spent six gold coins to buy it, but was it really okay? He wouldn't be yelled at by his papa, right? No matter what, 10 metres of fabric for 900,000 yen was too much.
I cleaned up as I basked in the weight of the six gold coins, and by the time I finished Diana and the others had returned.
"Ah, welcome back. Listen, about the fabric I told you about—"
"We're back. Oh, we have something to tell you about the fabric just now. The three of us were talking, and we realised that fabric was—"
"I sold it for six gold coins!"
"It's the Royal Cloth of the Night Demon… isn't it? It might just seem similar, but… eh?"
"Jirou-sama, you acted too fast. If it was the Royal Cloth of the Night Demon, it would have sold for no less than 50 gold coins… If it was a citizen of Erishe that bought it, then you can still find them and buy it back… The only ones that know of the Royal Cloth of the Night Demon are the nobles and great merchants of the imperial capital, after all."
The Royal Cloth of the Night Demon was the fabric used in the mantle of the royal elf family. Rebecca-san had seen it once before, Hetty-san had heard of the name, and Diana said, "Come to think of it, Dad may have worn it before… in a different colour, so I didn't notice!"
Why… why couldn't you have said that earlier!
That velvet existed in this world, but only as a super rare item!
It wasn't as though I lost anything, but it felt like I had lost. The fabric itself could be restocked at any time, and it wasn't as though I had suffered a painful blow of any sort.
No matter how you look at it, that Chubby definitely saw the Royal Cloth of the Night Demon and bought it without saying anything, the sly bastard!
He'd definitely come back saying "Sell me more~ sell me more~ sell me another one for six gold coins~"!
I guess the next restock will be next year! …Is what I'll have to say to him, so stocking velvet in the future will be a little trickier…
But there's no point in worrying about it anymore.
Grandma always told me that picking yourself up quickly had an effect on your work.
Tonight was still a celebration, as planned!
At this time, the only thoughts that were in my head were the fact I had sold a precious item for cheap, and that selling it for cheap had left me feeling like I had lost.
I hadn't considered what kind of actions a large merchant would take when he discovered that a paltry trader was monopolising a huge profit market—the thought hadn't even passed my mind.
And that would later come back to bite me in the ass—in the worst way possible.
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