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2. This is a fan work and the interpretation represents only the translator’s personal views without any input from the author.
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The store had already been rented despite the fact that they had yet to resolve the issue of supply. But that was the way the dice fell. Shi Cheng, Liu Shu and Liu Lin brought Liu Xu’er and Liu Changgeng over to look at the store.
The store wasn’t located on Hanzhong city’s busiest street. Like other major cities, it wasn’t just the busiest street in Hanzhong that had crowds, other locations had a high level of footfall as well. It was just that the stores wouldn’t be as packed, but likewise, rent wouldn’t be as high.
By now, the store was rented. This was an unchangeable fact. They had originally planned to renovate the store, and immediately open. They were hoping to rush opening before the New Year to earn that first pot of gold, but now, that obviously wasn’t a concern. They closed the store and returned to Feng town to settle the supply matter.
They went back in two carts – Liu Shu and Liu Lin were in one, while Liu Xu’er was with her father. Shi Cheng swiftly followed her into their cart, and naturally couldn’t allow his father-in-law to drive while he relaxed. He immediately moved to switch with Liu Changgeng, allowing Liu Changgeng to sit with his daughter in the cart.
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“Fs vbyv’p obyv byrrldle. R qlzv vbyv vbl pkvwyvksd oyp cye, yde kxxlekyvlzu awpble shla okvb eye vs pll kq ol nswze pvsr vbl pvsal aldvyz. R eked’v byhl ldswtb vkxl vs qkde swv bso xydu qyxkzklp bye clld ldvknle yoyu cu Nkw Zwd’la.” Nkw Dw’la oyp lmrzykdkdt obyv bye byrrldle okvb Fbk Ubldt, pktbkdt.&dcpr;
Fbk Ubldt dseele yde pyke, “Psd’v osaau. El pbswze ekpnwpp vbkp xyvvla kd xsal elvykz. Mblal’p elqkdkvlzu y pszwvksd…. Mblal’p ds dlle vs cl ydtau lkvbla. Zsw’hl pyke kv uswaplzq. Ohlausdl fwpv zssjp yv vbl xsdlu, yde ds sdl kp vbyv zsuyz. Mblu dyvwayzzu oswze ts oblal vbl xsdlu kp! Zsw alyzzu nyd’v czyxl vbl hkzzytlap. Gp qsa Nkw Zwd’la, okvb bso nyalzlpp pbl kp, eyakdt vs wpl cwpkdlpp yp y oyu sq elzkhlakdt rlvvu alhldtl, olzz, pbl okzz elqkdkvlzu ts wdela pssdla sa zyvla!”
Nkw Dw’la bwqqle, yde pyke, “Rv’p yzaktbv. Ebld R qkapv qswde swv, R oyp kdelle ydmkswp, cwv dso vbyv vbl pvsal kp yzalyeu aldvle, R yx ds zsdtla osaakle…. Gnvwyzzu, kv’p dsvbkdt xwnb. Fs obyv kq kv’p aldvle – ol byhl kv qsa shla y ulya! R esd’v clzklhl vbyv R osd’v cl yczl vs nsxl wr okvb y pszwvksd okvbkd vbyv vkxl! Wwavblaxsal, kv oypd’v yp vbswtb R bye dlhla vbswtbv vbyv swa pwrrzu nbykd oyp ynvwyzzu ayvbla vldwswp. Ohlausdl byp vblka wrp yde esodp – ds sdl nyd twyaydvll vbyv vbl pwrrzu nyd yzoyup jllr wr…. Rv’p fwpv vbyv pkdnl dsvbkdt bye byrrldle, R vbswtbv R pbswzed’v vbkdj ycswv kv vss ellrzu. Rv’p dsv y cye vbkdt vbyv kv’p byrrldle dso. Rv okzz tkhl xl vkxl vs vbkdj yde rzyd. Fkdnl ol dso aldv ldvkal pvsalp, swa pwrrzu nbykd pbswze yzps cl clvvla altwzyvle!”
Fbk Ubldt dseele, Nkw Ubydttldt yzps dseele. “Mbyv’p aktbv. Zswa oyu sq vbkdjkdt kp kelyz Dw’la. Mblal’p ds dlle vs osaau – ol’hl tsv ps xydu rlsrzl. El okzz elqkdkvlzu cl yczl vs nsxl wr okvb y pszwvksd. Rd vbl osapv nypl pnldyaks, R okzz fwpv xyjl xsal – ol nyd fwpv plzz clyele caynlzlvp yde nsxcp kd swa pvsalp – vblu plzz ayvbla olzz, aktbv?”
Nkw Dw’la dseele. Fbl oyp ycswv vs pxkzl yde ytall! Mbld bla lulp pweeldzu zkv wr! Ekvb psxl pvyavzle elzktbv, pbl pvyale yv Nkw Ubydttldt, cwv eked’v pyu yduvbkdt.&dcpr;
Jlnywpl bl oyp eakhkdt, Fbk Ubldt eked’v pll bla lmralppksd. Tl oyp dseekdt yde pyukdt, “Mbyv’p aktbv!”
Nkw Ubydttldt pvyavle vs zywtb yde ypj Nkw Dw’la, “Ebyv’p wr? Ebu yal usw zssjkdt yv xl? Pke usw vbkdj sq psxlvbkdt obld R pyke vbyv?”
Plzktbvle, Nkw Dw’la pyke, “Pye! Zswa osaep alyzzu eke alxkde xl…. Jwv, R dlle vs vbkdj. Nlv xl vbkdj kv vbaswtb nyalqwzzu!”
When Shi Cheng heard that, he turned and looked at Liu Xu’er. Seeing her deep in thought, he gave a little smile and stopped talking, giving her space to think. At first, he was still thinking of ways to comfort her. Who would have expected that she would get over her upset so quickly, and already have thought of remedies!
Her quiet concentration lasted the entire journey back. When she got home, she still hadn’t thought it completely through. She was silent throughout dinner, her expression thoughtful.
Liu Tao wasn’t at home. He shi said that he had found out about the matter after Liu Xu’er and Liu Changgeng had left. He had immediately gone off to look for Liu Yun’er and hadn’t returned.
Everyone nodded, but didn’t say anything. Honestly, everyone still had their suspicions of Liu Tao.
Liu Xu’er remained silent, but others filled the gap. Liu Shu and Liu Lin both mentioned the matter of renting the store. He shi couldn’t help sighing and explaining what had happened at home. Today, another two people had come by. He shi had already gotten the instruction from Liu Xu’er – if anyone came by to raise prices, to refuse all of them. These people had already found out about Liu Yun’er’s offered price, and Liu Yun’er was determined to get into a price war with her. No matter how much Liu Xu’er offered, Liu Yun’er would definitely increase her offer. The situation would turn very ugly very quickly.
Liu Xu’er naturally didn’t want to see that happen. Also, she just didn’t see the need to compete with Liu Yun’er that way.
As such, no matter who came, He shi told them up front that there would be no negotiation of prices. They would not increase price at all.
So these people naturally refused to continue to supply goods.
He shi had already gotten a rough estimation of who was still willing to supply them. Those who still hadn’t come by were definitely a no-go – they probably didn’t even plan to update them of their change of heart.
Shi Cheng had joined them for the meal. During the meal, he chatted with Liu Shu and Liu Lin, while waiting for Liu Xu’er to have thought her plan through.
He shi was working on some embroidery. From time to time, she would glance up at Liu Xu’er. Liu Changgeng was seated at her side, slowly sipping his tea, also waiting. Only Liu Sen was unbothered. He stood at the window side, pruning some flowers.
Liu Lin finally couldn’t stand it any longer. He told Liu Xu’er, “Xu’er, there’s no need to think any longer! Since they don’t want to make it for us, then we won’t use them any more! From today on, we will just make a few items. We will work with our family members as well as those who are willing to continue to supply us. Each of us will be responsible for an item! That would surely ensure a stable supply, right?”
Shi Cheng shook his head, “I’m afraid that’s still not enough….” He looked at Liu Xu’er. Actually, he had already started to guess at her plan, but since she still hadn’t thought everything through, then he would not ask anything yet.
Liu Shu then said, “It would be best if we could have guaranteed labor…. What Liu Lin said makes some sense. So long as we can have guaranteed labor. But we will still need to find more people….”
Shi Cheng was about to say something when Liu Xu’er smiled and said, “Dage, erge are both right! It’s just that your plan isn’t complete. I’ve already thought it through. This matter is actually a good opportunity. We should take this chance and completely re-adjust our business.”
Shi Cheng asked, “Are you thinking of opening a workshop?”
Liu Shu and Liu Lin blinked.
Liu Xu’er smiled and nodded. “Well, you can’t really call it a workshop… it’s not going to be at that scale.” She looked at the people around her and said, “When Shi Cheng was managing the store, all of his stock came from Jiangnan. In Jiangnan, there are a lot of workshops; there might be over a dozen seamstresses in such workshops, all tasked to do a specific thing, for example, handkerchiefs, or pouches and what not. They might even arrange an assembly line with a dozen people, and break down production into a dozen steps, one for each person to complete. Taking a pouch as an example, if we have say, myself, mum and Shi Cheng are working together, I might be in charge solely of cutting the cloth, while mum is in charge of sewing them into a pouch, and Shi Cheng would be responsible for sewing a flower on it….”
When she said that, everyone understood. They had all been in business for a few years; even if they had never seen one in person, they had all heard of workshops. Liu Lin was already thumping his thigh and saying, “I understand what you want to do now! You want to open a workshop like that. This way, all the stock would be produced by our own workshops. Nobody can get us into a stranglehold any longer!”
“This idea is good,” Liu Changgeng said, “It’s just that we will need to find quite a few people.”
Liu Xu’er smiled and said, “We don’t need that many. Just like erge said. We should streamline our items. For those few items, we just need to assemble a line for … I mean…”
“We would need to fix a number of people for each item and decide on the tasks each person needs to do. Three or four people would then work on a single item.” Shi Cheng helped her to explain.
Liu Xu’er smiled and nodded. “That’s right! That’s what I meant. We won’t need to deliberately confine our workers to our fellow villagers, we can use people from anywhere. And they won’t need to be able to make these items – we can train them on how to make it in the workshop. So long as they know how to fulfil their role, it’s enough.”
Liu Shu nodded, “That works.”
He shi didn’t quite understand. She blinked and continued listening.
Shi Cheng nodded his head and said, “That way, you really won’t need too many. Three or four people would form a group. For simpler items like headscarves and what not, two people would probably be enough. And this way, your supply would have no problems keeping up. So long as you give wages, there’s no need to worry about supply anymore… if you lack people, just hire more!”
When he said that, everyone felt that the plan was workable. In fact, the plan was great! Everyone started to talk excitedly – they shared whatever thoughts they had, refining their plans.
Liu Xu’er was actually rather emotional. The supply issue was something she had worried over for a long time. Now, it seemed that she would finally be resolving it!
Of course, they would still need to carefully plan and execute everything. They would need to feel their way carefully and there would surely be many problems. Everything would need to be dealt with one by one.
Everyone was too excited. They talked non-stop till late. Liu Changgeng was worried about Shi Cheng returning home so late by himself. He insisted on personally sending him home.
The next day, Shi Cheng came over very early and everyone continued to discuss the matter. The more they talked, the earlier they would discover potential problems and think of solutions. In this way, their plans became tighter and tighter.
During their discussion phase, as anticipated, fewer and fewer people came by the old store to drop off their goods. Apart from Aunt Wu and Liu Lian, none of the rest showed up.
Of course, He Ruyu and jiuma were still in the dark. There was no issue on their side.
Liu Xu’er and her family were not worried. Since they had thought of a plan, they would slowly see it to fruition.
Firstly, they needed to decide on what items they wanted to make. Combs and beaded bracelets had always been made by Liu Changgeng. Whenever Liu Shu and Liu Lin were free, they too would make some. Although they were made by just three people, they were still able to manage. Of course, since they had decided to open a workshop, they would transfer the work there and settle everything in this one major transition.
Liu Xu’er had already decided on who would be incharge of the two lines making beaded bracelets and combs – her father Liu Changgeng!
There would be a single assembly line for pouches and scent sachets, another line in charge of making decorative knots and yet another dedicated to making hand-warmers.
Separately, there would be a line making scarves, five coloured bands and other simple items. Liu Xu’er was not willing to let go of these items. First of all, they still needed them for the Feng town shops. Also, it seemed that Liu Yun’er would also be making those few things – that was clear from the people she had brought over. These people had been making items for Liu Xu’er for a long time and she was extremely clear about what each could do.
Since she wanted a fight, Liu Xu’er would give her one! May the best man win!
As for the handkerchiefs, headscarves, five coloured bands – all of these didn’t take too much skill. They just needed to be mass produced. So Liu Xu’er figured that they could all be put into a single line. Then she would just fix that in a month, each item would be given produced within a certain number of days. In general, they should be able to make a month’s supply of each within five or six days. Of course, they would need to continue to monitor the situation at the store to see if they needed to increase or decrease the amount of goods produced.
With just these few assembly lines, they would need to open a rather large workshop. They needed both men and women – the men would work on the combs and beaded bracelets while the women could do the rest. Liu Xu’er had already thought of the estimated number of workers – she would need seven or eight men, and about 10 women. A line would be made up of about three to four people each.
Of course, male and female workers needed to be segregated.
Over the next two days, Liu Xu’er and her family, along with Shi cheng started to explore what each line should do, roughly how many persons each line needed, and what each person would be assigned to do. Every single line was examined carefully. The first two lines to be confirmed were the lines making combs and beaded bracelets.
Then after calculating costs of labor, materials, as well as the projected income, they confirmed the wage amount and started to make plans to look for workers.
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Thanks for the chapter!!!