I sat down with Lambert-san and Mary-san in the drawing room at the back of the store. It seemed that Mary-san was determined to be part of the discussion.
I listened as Lambert-san made it clear he wasn't going give in completely to his wife's wishes. He had decided he would give her a small area on the main shop, about two tatami mats in extent for her sales floor.
"I think that it should be larger, my esteemed husband doesn't understand it's the only place in town these goods will be on sale..." Mary-san says sorrowfully. However I understand Lambert-san's thinking. They are new products, totally different to the leather goods his store has been selling until now. It's a good idea to start small and see how they sell.
"Well, if the sales area is going to be so small does that mean you should limit the goods you sell too?" I suggested. I said that perhaps it would be better to agree to sell just three different things at first. I listed the possibilities -- two kinds of soap, the rinse-in shampoo, the shampoo plus conditioner and the hair wraps. What did they think would be the best ones to offer for sale, at least to start with?
"No, we shouldn't limit the number of items. We should sell all of them. " Mary-san leaned forward, speaking emphatically. "Don't you think so, dear?"
Pressured by Mary-san, Lambert-san could only reply "Ummm."
"Mukouda-san's goods are a woman's dream come true. I can't think of any woman who wouldn't want them." Mary-san said confidently, like a lady who is sure of her facts. "I've actually used them myself. I will promote them to my friends although when they see how I look they're going to ask me straight away how my hair achieved this smoothness and lustre, ho ho ho." Saying that, Mary-san stroked her hair again and again. Yeah yeah, I know, your hair is wonderful.
"That's why I believe that I should sell this soap for 4 silver coins." Mary-san said, pointing to the cheapest soap.
Huh? Mary-san, three pieces only cost me one copper coin, I thought to myself.
"Mary, is that not too expensive?" Lambert-san asked.
"You think so? I tried washing my hands with this soap. It foams up well and I think that smell is good if not so good as the scented soap I used in the bath." Mary-san tapped the package with the cheap soap on the table. "Recall the sort of soap we have used until now, dear. Even though it doesn't foam and its smell was unpleasant, it still cost three silver coins. "
"Oh, is that so?" I said, amazed.
"That's right. Considering how much better it is, I think that this product can sell for four silver coins. Really I think it's cheap at that price."
"Well, I suppose so..." Lambert-san was being completely overwhelmed by Mary-san's enthusiasm but he hesitated. "Of course, the price we sell for will depend on the price Mukouda-san will wholesale it to us. What are your thoughts on the subject, Mukouda-san?"
Huh? You're asking me? The wholesale price is up to me? Well I don't really know about that kind of thing but maybe 50% of the selling price is about right?
"Well, how about 2 silver coins?" I asked tentatively.
Lambert-san was surprised at my offer. "No no no, you mustn't give us preferential treatment. How about two silver coins and five copper coins? That's a wholesale price which is still very favorable to us."
What? Is it okay getting that much? If 3 pieces of soap bought for 1 piece of copper can be sold for 2 silver coins and 5 copper coins then I'm not going to complain.
"Well then, we'll settle on that." Two silver coins and five copper coins for three bars of cheap soap, wow. Easy money. Mary-san moved on to the scented soap.
"This soap is really fragrant and using it means you don't have to wear perfume afterwards. I think Mukouda-san said it costs a bit more. We should sell it for six silver coins. What do you think? "
"Well, for this soap, as Mary says, six silver coins looks to be a good price." Lambert-san agreed, staring at the soap on the table. "This pleasant scent adds value and besides it's the sort of thing nobles will want."
I thought that the rose fragrance soap would be a luxury item but it still only cost me 3 copper coins for three pieces. Could they really sell it for six silver coins?
"What would you want for the wholesale price for this soap, Mukouda-san?" Lambert-san inquired.
I thought quickly. Considering the price for the cheaper soap... "Well, how about 3 silver coins and 5 copper coins?"
"Is that enough profit for you?" Lambert-san asked in reply. Turning three copper coins into three silver coins and five copper coins was definitely profitable enough for me.
When I nodded "Yes" Lambert-san said "Thank you so much". Did Lambert-san think I was giving him preferential treatment even at that price? I wasn't sure but I decided to just let it go.
We settled on a wholesale price for the rinse-in shampoo of 4 silver coins with the selling price to be 7 silver coins. The shampoo and conditioner were to be sold as a set since they needed to be used together. The selling price was to be one gold coin, the wholesale price 6 silver coins. The customers would pay extra for the bottles the first time they bought it and then bring them back for a refill afterwards. Mary-san said she would add the price of the bottle, at cost, to the initial purchase. I bought these bottles locally so the extra cost didn't add to my profit margins but I was making so much anyway...
Mary-san held up the small jar with the hair wraps. "This particular item, I'd like to introduce it to only those who purchased the shampoo and conditioner set in order to make an extra rather than selling it separately. Having used it this way," she stopped to stroke her hair again, "It really makes my hair look beautiful like magic. With this effect in mind, I'm thinking about a price of 2 gold coins."
Cough cough... I nearly sprayed the tea that I had just drunk. She said "two gold coins"? I bought a pack of hair wraps for 8 copper coins and put them in two jars I got from the Net Super. So one jar and 4 copper coins of hair wraps and she's intending to sell that for 2 gold coins? Only I know how much they really cost but isn't that too much regardless?
"I know how effective these are in making hair beautiful so two gold coins is a good price." Mary-san emphasized. Still, two gold coins?
"This is a very special item, and this container is also wonderful with such clear glass which is included in this price." She went on, holding the glass jar up to the light. Oh I see, but the jars were cheap on the Net Super too. I decided to just accept her thinking and we decided that the wholesale price, including the Net Super jar would be a gold coin and two silver coins for each one.
"Let's sell these goods on a trial basis for the time being." Lambert-san announced once the wholesale prices had been agreed. Lambert-san intended to purchase larger amounts after seeing how they sell in his shop but for the time being he was going to buy 30 of each item (the shampoo and conditioner as a set) to begin with.
"Oh, Lambert-san and Mary-san, if possible, I'd like you to keep quiet about who you get these things from." Although I'm OK with selling them to Lambert-san I don't want to be bothered by other merchants and even noblemen if they found out who he got them from. That would be a pain.
"Of course, of course." Lambert-san reassured me. "I'm sure that these products will sell well. As long as you can wholesale them to me on an exclusive basis I'm not going to tell anyone else who I get them from."
"I see, a good supplier is a valuable asset for a merchant. I won't sell these items to anyone else." This arrangement would be good for both of us. I suddenly thought of something else.
"One thing, I won't always be in this town, is that going to be a problem? If I'm going to travel around I'll deliver as many products as possible before I go." Fer wants to go to the sea so I'll probably be leaving soon.
"That's fine." Lambert-san reassured me. "I'd only be buying these goods from you a few times a year. If you can let me know in advance when you're leaving I'll place an order beforehand." Lambert-san bought leather in bulk several times a year in the same way, placing orders and arranging collection well in advance. Planning ahead was a thing good merchants did as a matter of course.
"Well then, I'll go get your initial order ready and deliver it tomorrow." I said.
"Thank you." Lambert-san and Mary-san chorused as I left the shop.
Well, time to get busy, I thought to myself. I had to prepare the initial wholesale order for Lambert-san's shop. I wondered if I could supply the liquids in big bottles for delivery and they could refill the small bottles at the shop as trade picked up. Since bottles are to be priced separately, I felt it would be OK if I asked Lambert-san to do it that way. It would save me a lot of time and effort.
For the hair wraps, they were a special item so I didn't think there would be that many to do... If I was in a hurry I could just put them all into a big jar and ask the Lamberts to refill the original hair wrap jars too. I still had to get that first wholesale order sorted out though. I'd talk to Lambert-san and Mary-san about how to speed up later deliveries after they had started selling the first batch.
On my way back to the inn I needed to drop by a grocery store and buy some more bottles.