1. This is an unofficial translation and no permission has been obtained from the author/ official publisher. It may be taken down if the author/official publisher requests.
2. This is a fan work and the interpretation represents only the translator’s personal views without any input from the author.
3. No permission has been granted to use, publish, upload and/or copy this translation to any other site except for Second Life Translations.
Liu Xu’er shared the broad strokes of her plans to the family before asking, “That’s the general idea. Every single assembly line would need a manager. Of course, at the beginning, the manager would also have to work alongside them, but once the workers are familiar with the process, they can stop. Subsequently, they would just need to supervise their work, and ensure that the daily quota of goods is met.”
She smiled and looked at her jiujiu, jiuma. Then she said, “I was wondering if jiuma would be willing to take on that role? Also sishen? If you are willing, then the wages per person would be a tael of silver a month.”
He shi gave an apologetic smile when she heard. Smacking Liu Xu’er gently, she swiftly moved to repair, “This child…”
He Wenqing smiled and said, “It needs to be said. Accounts must be extremely clear between siblings. It is right for Xu’er to be so transparent and upfront. After all these years, how can our family be unaware? Although Xu’er is part of the younger generation, when it comes to business, we will all listen to Xu’er.”
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Lso vbyv pbl oyp vbkdjkdt ycswv kv, bla ldvkal xykeld qyxkzu olal yzz eskdt ayvbla olzz vblpl eyup.&dcpr;
Nkw Dw’la’p vos fkwxy olal okzzkdt, cwv vblu olal osaakle ycswv vbl osajkdt bswap. Mblu nswzed’v ktdsal vbl lzelap yv bsxl,&dcpr; vblka bwpcyde, vblka nbkzeald yde osaj yoyu qasx bsxl qsa xsdvb yqvla xsdvb, aktbv? Wwavblaxsal, kv oyp wdpllxzu qsa y okql vs pvyu yoyu qasx bla bwpcyde, pzllrkdt yryav qasx bkx.&dcpr;
This was a matter that Liu Xu’er had considered – should she offer accommodation and food to her workers? She thought that she could provide workers with a meal a day, but it would be best not to provide accommodation. There would be both male and female workers, and the family wouldn’t be able to handle it if something were to happen between the two groups. Also, women were expected to stay at home – it wasn’t good for them to stay away. If they didn’t manage to resolve this point, no one would be willing to work for them.
Liu Xu’er immediately decided and said, “Don’t worry about the working hours. You can leave by early afternoon. My dad’s workers will all be male, so they will leave at 5pm. Jiuma, you can leave at 3pm. Would that be ok?”
If that was the case, it meant that they would have half an afternoon at home – this was definitely workable. If they walked home, it would take them two hours, but if they were to drive a donkey cart, they only needed an hour to get back. They would be able to make it back in time to prepare the evening meal.
Jiujiu, jiuma immediately agreed to the proposal. He Wenqing even promised to get his wife to ask around the village and see if anyone else is willing to come and work with her. Liu Xu’er quickly stressed that they were only looking for women. Sishu had already found enough male workers. After all, they were paying 500 wen per month – this was not a small sum of money for villagers.
Even after jiujiu went home, this matter still needed follow up. Liu Lian, Aunt Wu and Xiaotian all came by. Liu Xu’er then explained their plan to Liu Lian and Xiaotian – they were looking for workers; the minimum wage they were willing to pay was 500 wen per month. The offered amount was more than they made in a year of doing handicrafts.
Liu Lian immediately agreed to work for them, while Xiaotian jie had to go back to discuss the situation with her husband.
With all this to be done, the 10th month came and went. Liu Xu’er had made up her mind to completely overhaul her system. She would rather the Hanzhong city store be left empty, then to scramble and open without having resolved these issues.
On the last day of the 10th month, Liu Yun’er’s store opened.
Liu Xu’er made sure to go. Because she wasn’t there to confront them, she refused to allow Liu Shu and Liu Lin to accompany her. She only allowed Liu Tao to bring her there. Naturally, Shi Cheng came along to act as her bodyguard.
When they got there, they saw that the store’s doors were open. In front of the entrance, on the doorsteps were remnants of firecrackers. The store was filled with people – mostly suppliers from Taohua village. When they saw Liu Xu’er standing at the doorway, a few of them hid away, embarrassed.
Liu Yun’er was dressed in a bright red silk dress. Her hair was fashioned in a married woman’s hairdo, decorated with many glittering gold hairpins. With a smug face, she saw them standing there and immediately came over. In a loud voice, she said to Liu Tao, “Useless thing! I told you to come over, so why didn’t you come?! I would pay you three, no, five taels of silver a month! Isn’t that better than working for others? Aren’t you tired of sucking up to others!”
Liu Tao frowned, and turned away. He refused to say anything.
Those in a different line would just be there to spectate and enjoy, but competitors in the same line would go to scope out the competition. Shi Cheng and Liu Xu’er looked at the location of the store, then looked at how the store was laid out. From this alone, they could confirm that she would definitely lose money!
These little handicrafts would only be making about one to two wen per piece. Just like Liu Xu’er’s old store – it took several years for business to really stabilise and for them to dare to rent the store. Before that, they were earning money several wen at a time. Liu Yun’er didn’t know anything – she immediately opened such a large store. Who knew how much money she had spent on renovation alone.
Everything was glittering in the store, but her goods were copied from Liu Xu’er – she was selling five-coloured bands, handkerchiefs, scarves. To make back all the money already spent on renovation and rent on these items alone was highly unlikely.
She would definitely lose money! It was just a question of how much.
After the two of them looked around, they didn’t say anything and left. Liu Yun’er didn’t notice anything amiss – she kept smiling smugly behind them, as if she had already won.
When they got back and everyone had sat down to dinner together, Liu Xu’er announced that she was planning to increase Liu Tao’s salary. Every month, he would get a tael of silver.
Liu Tao was stunned. Face red, he said, “No need, no need… Mei, don’t listen to my jie’s words….”
By now, Shi Cheng’s presence at their family table was expected. He was always there – whenever he was missing, Liu Changgeng and He shi would ask about him, and worry about him. Shi Cheng, of course, was only too happy to take them at their word and join them at all three meals, everyday.
Today, he was again at the meal. When he heard, he smiled and said, “Your mei isn’t doing this to compete with your sister. There’s nothing to compete over! Your sister’s store is unreliable! She won’t be able to keep her doors open for very long. Your mei is doing this, because you deserve the raise.”
Liu Xu’er nodded and said, “That’s right. Sange, once we have finished re-organising everything, it is very likely that we would need a store manager for each store. Since you are all going to be store managers, I will also need to hire assistants. Our family can’t afford to pay our workers as well as Shi Cheng’s family does, so for now, you will just have to bear with this… For now at least. We will re-look it again in future!”
Liu Tao finally nodded when he heard that. He had never asked too many questions about the family’s exact financial situation or their plans for the shops. He knew there were some things he couldn’t ask.
Liu Changgeng then asked Liu Shu, “Recently, we’ve been spending more money. How are the accounts? Are you able to manage them? There can be no mistake with our accounts!”
Liu Shu quickly nodded, “Relax, dad. Everything has been recorded down very clearly. There definitely won’t be any mistakes.”
He shi then said, “Shu has been doing this for so many years. Why are you worried about this? You, on the other hand, should quickly go over everything again. How many people are you going to arrange in each assembly line, and what should each worker do!”
Liu Changgeng lifted his wine cup and took a sip. Smiling, he said confidently, “Don’t worry! My sons and daughter are all so capable, how could I be worse than them! Xu’er, you don’t need to worry about me. Dad promises that everything will be managed perfectly!”
Liu Xu’er giggled, “Alright, dad. I definitely trust you! I am just waiting to see the results!”
Liu Changgeng started to laugh.
It was finally the 11th month. Liu Xu’er wasn’t too anxious about opening the workshop. She wanted everything to be in order before opening. As such, by the middle of the 11th month, their stores had all run out of stock, so they decided to close shop early in preparation for the New Year.
As for the workshop workers, they had already found everyone they needed for the combs and beaded bracelets. They had started operating those two lines at the beginning of the 11th month. The rented space for the workshop had previously functioned as a large warehouse. Because business was poor, they had to close, and this large space had been emptied.
Liu Changgeng had gotten people to renovate the space, and put up a dividing wall in the middle of the space. That way, men and women could be given their own separated space to work. They had made things clear to the workers – they would not be providing accommodation, and would only provide the noon meal for everyone. They could return every day at 5pm. That way, they could avoid having to supervise these people after hours, and the possibility of any ugly situation arising.
After renovating the space, those half grown lads all started to show up to work under Liu Changgeng’s watchful eye.
In a month, the assembly lines were starting to show good progres. The things they made were similar in quality to Liu Changgeng’s own products. The only issue was that they were too slow. They weren’t yet familiar enough, and so, it took them much much longer to produce a single comb.
But this was just a question of familiarity. With enough practise, things would be fine.
At the end of the 11th month, they gave everyone their wages and gave them a break for the New Year. They would need to return to work on the 25th day of the first month.
Everyone was extremely excited and happy. Terrified that there should be any changes, everyone promised that they would definitely be back – their positions must be held for them!
With the success of these two lines, Liu Xu’er was even more confident. She had purchased several sewing frames, sewing hoops and other such necessities. She was just looking for the needed workers.
As to the stores, everything had been arranged. Liu Tao was still in charge of the old store – he could be considered the store manager. In time to come, they would hire a store assistant to help him. Similarly, Liu Lin was the new store’s store manager and they would also look for an assistant to help him as well.
Liu Shu’s time was dedicated to keeping accounts – he was the bookkeeper. Because of the expansion of their business, the family’s accounts had grown much more complicated. He had to keep track of the two stores, as well as the workshop’s accounts. And since they would now need to buy raw materials for the workshop, the ledger had many different details that he needed to be on top of.
As for Liu Sen, they allowed him to rotate around the different areas to see what sparked his interest. In future, they would put him in the area that interested him.
For the Hanzhong city store, Liu Xu’er planned to hire a store manager, just like Shi Cheng’s family did. She planned to dedicate that store to selling hand-warmers – the accounts for such were much simpler, so it would be difficult to cook the books for the store. She would leave it to Shi Cheng to recommend a suitable, trustworthy person to the position.
Now that everything had been properly planned, everyone felt that things were going well. Now, they just had to wait for the New Year to put everything into motion.