Chapter 98 -- Getting a Big Order
I visited Lambert-san's store the next day as I was interested in how the soap and shampoo and other items were selling.
"Good afternoon, Lambert-san." I said as the store's assistant led me to where he was working.
"Oh, Mukouda-san, good to see you." Lambert-san welcomed me with a broad smile.
"So are the soaps and shampoo selling well?" I enquired, getting right down to business.
"Yes, very well. I originally thought to use the regular shop staff to sell these items but..." As Lambert-san explained, Mary-san's word-of-mouth publicity campaign was highly successful and what's more, the ladies who bought soap and shampoo from her went on to tell all their friends, bringing in more customers.
"As you can see, Mary is personally demonstrating the items which has also boosted sales considerably."
In the corner of the shop where the soap and shampoo were laid out on display Mary-san was speaking enthusiastically to a lady while getting her to touch her hair. The customer seemed surprised touching Mary's hair, discussing the effects of the shampoo eagerly with Lambert-san's wife.
"Thanks to Mary, sales are excellent. Of course, the goods I bought from Mukouda are of the highest quality."
The best sellers were the cheaper unscented soap and the rinse-in shampoo. It seemed they would be sold out in a little while. The lower price made them an easier sell. The sets of rose scented soap and shampoo and conditioner seemed to be popular among ladies who were more well-off, with nearly two-thirds of them being sold already. Although the hair wraps were particularly expensive, it seems that Mary-san had sold nearly one-third of my original delivery in the same time. I was amazed.
"I'm also surprised at the level of sales." Lambert-san said. "I underestimated the effort women would make in the pursuit of beauty." He shrugged. "Why, some customers bought as many as five high-end scented soaps at one time just because of the smell."
This world is different from mine in many ways but women's obsession with beauty is a universal constant. My older sister is a beauty otaku who says things like "these days guys who don't care about looking good are no good". When I was younger, living with her at my parents' house she would chop and change, experimenting with all sorts of new shampoos and conditioners and face and body lotions as they came on the market. Anything that she abandoned half-empty she pushed on me to try.
"The sales of leather goods in our main business is also doing well, surprisingly." Lambert-san added. The ladies who came to buy soap and shampoo here also saw his leather goods and they'd often buy something if it caught their eye while they were in the store. Ladies bags were a popular item, they seemed to go well with the hair care and soaps Mary-san was selling. The well-dressed men who sometimes accompanied the ladies were also often tempted by some of the store's more regular offerings.
"I didn't expect that the sale of such things would affect the sale of bags the way it did but," Lambert-san smiled, "in this case I'm rather pleased I miscalculated on that score." I wasn't surprised he was smiling, improving the sales of his regular leather goods even by accident was a good thing for him.
"So let's talk business..." I asked about any new orders Lambert-san wanted to place with me. It seems that Lambert-san was now convinced that Mary-san could sell the soaps and shampoos from the first trial order I had provided with little difficulty. We quickly agreed on the next order, the cheapest soap × 600 pieces, rose scented soap × 200 pieces, rinse-in shampoo × 500 bottles, shampoo and conditioner × 200 sets and finally 60 jars of hair wraps. Some of the quantities surprised me a little. He wanted 600 of the cheap soaps?
According to Mary-san, for regular folks who are neither aristocrats nor merchants even the cheapest unscented soap is expensive but she had sold such soaps to people like Merchants Guild staff members and even female Adventurers who were willing to pay for them. It turns out it was a mistake to put the scented soaps in bags, Mary-san explained as the scent attracted the attention of ordinary women visiting the shop. They might not be able to afford the scented soap but the plain soap was often within their means. Lambert-san expected that they would be able to sell even more of the plain soaps in the future.
"Because the order is quite big is it possible for you to fill the bottles here in your store, Lambert-san?" I asked, considering how much work it was going to be to do it all by myself. "I can bring the hair wraps in the glass jars and you can sell them directly."
"Yes, that's fine." said Lambert-san, thinking hard." Also, if someone has already purchased shampoos and the like or the hair wraps, if they bring the containers back we can fill them again here in the store and charge them a little less." I remembered suggesting something like that before and obviously Lambert-san had remembered my comment, not surprising for a master Merchant such as he. Anyway it was a relief that I wouldn't have to fill nearly a thousand bottles by myself.
"Well then, I will bring it all along tomorrow." I would have to hurry and get to work once I got back to the inn as I hadn't been expecting such a large order. I couldn't hand out the refill pouches or packets I bought via the Net Super so I'd have to decant the liquids into some containers I obtained locally. On the way home I stopped off and went searching in a general store where I bought some wooden boxes and a number of large jars before I went back to the inn.
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Once I was back I immediately started preparing the order I had received from Lambert-san. I bought a lot of stuff from the Net Super. The order for the cheapest soap is 600 bars, it comes in packs of three bars of soap so I needed to buy 200 packs. It turned out that the maximum number I could order in one transaction on the Net Super was 99 of each item so I ordered 99 packs, another 99 packs and then 2 packs.
The order for rose scented soap was 200 bars. Since each pack contained 3 bars I ordered 67 packs. I could do this in one order since it was less than 99. That made 201 bars, one over the order but I kept the spare for my own use. On to the liquids. The rinse-in shampoo order was for 500 bottles, each refill pouch would fill 3 bottles so I bought 167 pouches in two orders. This was a little more than the order requested but I decided to donate the extra to Lambert-san. The order for shampoo and conditioner were for 200 pairs of bottles. I bought refill pouches again, 67 of each and again I left the extra to Lambert-san. Finally the hair wraps, 30 packs each with 8 wraps. I also bought 60 glass jars to put the hair wraps in. Whew.
I checked the quantities I had ordered, making sure I hadn't missed anything before starting to unpack and decant all the items. The plain soap bars were unwrapped and packed into wooden boxes, then I did the same with the rose-scented soaps into more boxes.
"Wow, I'm tired but I still have to sort out the refills next." I continued with the rinse-in shampoo, pouring the contents of the refill pouches into large jars, each with a lid. I think they were used in this world for fruit wines or preserves, each holding about 8 litres. I poured and poured and poured, eventually filling 13 jars with the rinse-in shampoo. The large jars worked really well for this purpose.
I did the same for the shampoo and conditioner sets, filling yet more large jars from the refill pouches. Finally I got on to the hair wraps, putting 4 hair wraps in each of the glass jars I had bought from the Net Super.
"Yes, finally, finished!" By the time I had finished the sun was beginning to sink low in the sky. Dinner time?
"Aruji, Fer-ojichan is hungry and waiting for you-" Sui announced. Yeah yeah, I took Sui and hurried down to the beast stables behind the inn.
* * * * *
When I got there Fer was grumpy. Well, grumpier than usual.
"Hoi, where were you?"
"Sorry sorry. Please forgive me for being late, I've got a real treat for you tonight." I took out the pot of beef stew from my Item Box. I had prepared it the night before since I had the time to simmer it properly. I had a good feeling the slow-cooked meat was going to taste great. I put out two servings of beef stew on plates for the two gluttons.
"Right. Be careful as it's hot." I warned as I put the plates down for them.
"This is the first time I've seen this. What is it..." Fer inquired suspiciously, then the smell hit him. Darling Sui was already digging in to her helping but Fer wasn't far behind.
"Ooo, this meat's so soft, it's just melting in my mouth." Fer said indistinctly, vacuuming up the stew on his plate.
"It really is." Sui added. "And it tastes delicious too!- "
Beef stew seems to be quite popular with the two gluttons as well.
"Seconds!" they chorused. I dished out even more stew for them while I started eating my own portion along with some French bread I had bought from the Net Super, dunking it in the gravy.
Ooooh, the meat is almost too tender, falling apart in my mouth. And sooo tasty. I wish I had added mushrooms, maybe I'll put some in next time I cook this dish.
I bought French bread because I thought it was better to eat beef stew with a crusty bread, but the Net Super version of French bread is actually quite soft and not crusty at all. I wasn't really surprised since at home I could never get proper crusty French bread anywhere except a specialist bakery. Were there any crusty breads in this world, I wondered. Well, there's that hard black bread, the sort I had eaten when I was travelling with the Iron Will team of Adventurers soon after I arrived in this world. Just eating it by itself as travel rations, it's tough and not very tasty but it might go well with beef stew since it's got a hard crust. I'll buy some black bread locally and keep it for next time, I decided.
"Seconds!" Shouldn't that be thirds? Whatever. I dished out more stew. Fer spotted the French bread I was eating my stew with.
"Nuu, is that something tasty you're eating this with?"
"Well yeah. I like eating beef stew with bread." I confirmed, reaching for the Net Super display. I knew what was coming. Lessee, bread, bread, bread... ah.
"I want to try it then." Fer announced, his previously-immaculate muzzle dripping with gravy. And I just washed you earlier, I sighed.
"Sui also wants to eat-" Yeah yeah. The order, two loaves of French bread arrived. I cut them apart and immersed some of the chunks in beef stew on the two dishes.
"Try some of this, I will add more if you like it."
"Umu-" Fer was muzzle-down in his dish of beef stew before I finished speaking and Sui didn't hesitate either.
"Well, this is really tasty. The bread soaks up the gravy and that makes it delicious." Fer declared as he came up for air.
"It really is." Sui chimed in. "The stew is delicious when you eat it with bread."
Fer and Sui seemed to like eating bread with the beef stew, demanding more "seconds" (fourths, fifths? I lost count) before finally...
"Well, I'm full." Fer said, sitting back at last. "It looks like Sui's full up too."
"Both of us are full up-" Sui agreed.
"Uuuuuurp... I may have eaten a little too much." Fer said deprecatingly, licking his stained muzzle to capture the last of the gravy adhering to it. Yeah, right. I peered into the pot which was now empty of beef stew. It had turned out to be a hit with my two gluttonous companions. I'll have to make more when I have the time to cook it properly. And include mushrooms.