New World New Life Chapter 10: Harvest Festival
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She helped Carole to display the new clothing pieces and rearranged some of the small pieces of accessories. As they worked together, Carole explained to Vy the different types of fabric and where they came from.
"What do most travellers like to buy," Vy asked out of curiosity.
Carole pondered for a while, "That very much depends on where they came from and where they are headed next."
She walked to the back of her shop and took out a scroll. When she unfurled it, it revealed a map of the nearby region, with the furthest city no more than a week's journey away, with the town in the centre.
"I got this map to help me identify where the customers were coming from, to see what they would need for their journey," Carole explained.
With the town they were in at the centre of the map, Carole explained that at this time in the year when the season of Summer is coming towards an end, people are likely travelling from neighbouring farm villages, tribes or towns to this town for the combined Harvest Celebrations.
Merchants would be bringing with them meat that was ready for smoking, preserved fruits and vegetables. While refrigeration does exist in this world, food would go bad eventually. Folk from the farm villages usually prefer to purchase simpler clothing, and in preparation for the upcoming winter, warm clothing.
If there were new children in the family, baby clothing would be needed. Carole always made sure she had some in stock. But for the Harvest Festival, most customers were either looking for their best dress outfits or warm clothing for the Winter. Shoes also bring in good profit at this time of the year as it was important for farmers when they were out in the fields or out in the forests during winter.
While Carole mainly sold clothing and accessories, she carried a small selection of shoes that were made and sold by the nearby shoe shop owner Mycah. Both sellers stock a small amount of each other's merchandise to sell customers since the goods were closely related.
If the customer wanted more variety, they would recommend them to each other's shop, thereby giving business to each other.
"That's really smart, Carole! I'm impressed," Vy said with glee and approval.
"Well, that's just one of the many tricks I have to keep that greenhorn Walron away from my customers."
Vy's eyes lit up, "Walron? The man who owns the clothing shop two stores down?"
Carole nodded, "Who else? That sly fox has a way with words and expensive taste. But don't be fooled by his items. They look pretty but they don't last long."
Vy pondered for a bit. With the knowledge that Carole had taught her, Vy thought about the clothes she had seen from Walton's shop. She had to admit, the bright colours and styles he carried was what attracted her attention.
But a simple touch and further look at the material revealed that the sewing and quality were not as good as what Carole had. As she looked at the fabrics, Carole quietly observed her concentration.
When she first walked into the shop, Carole was curious by her dressing. But after talking to her, she felt as if the girl was knowledgeable far beyond how she looked. She was wise, quick-witted and nice. Not only that, she was respectful and curious. Carole had met a number of rude people in her lifetime, so she was no stranger to nasty people.
It was always nice to meet and get to know someone who was nice and appreciative once in a while. Hence, Carole wanted to impart her knowledge and skills to this young woman. Vyrena seemed like someone who would achieve great things one day.
"Carole, do you get your pieces from the same merchants as Walron," Vy looked up and asked, "It's just that I noticed some of the designs are similar. You need not tell me if it's a trade secret or anything."
"That's quite alright. Some of the pieces yes, we do get them from the same merchant."
She could even tell that? Vyrena was observant! But her expression seemed vexed, was something wrong?
"Is something wrong," Carole asked out of curiosity.
Vy shook her head, "Oh it's nothing, I was just wondering."
The two women carried on with their preparations and as the day progressed, they chat about all sorts of things. Vy learnt that Carole was born in this town they were in. In her younger days, she travelled to one of the neighbouring cities to apprentice for a seamstress and joined a guild.
She sewed fabrics and clothing pieces for a long time before she finally decided to open her own shop. She became a travelling merchant for years. As she grew older, she felt that it was time for her to slow down her pace and return to her hometown.
She set up her shop on Market street but the increasing cost of rental and inflow of customers were too much for her to handle. So, she traded it in for a stall in the town market and that was it. While the stall in the market was smaller she felt more alive. There were fewer things to manage, but she was able to get to know her neighbours, and her customers better.
As they continued to serve customers throughout the day, Carole would introduce Vyrena to her regular customers. She would teach Vyrena their likes and dislikes, how to communicate with customers and how to manage the pricing of the items. Customers were always out to look for a bargain and would often try to haggle the prices but Carole kept her cool.
She was level headed, no matter how heated the customer might become when they were negotiating. When the day was over, they packed up all the clothes and Carole brought out a small table and brewed a pot of tea for both of them.
There was so much to do that Vy found it hard to believe that the day was already over. If it was not for her growling stomach, she would not have remembered that they had not eaten since the afternoon.
"I'm sure you're hungry now. But no worries, food would arrive soon enough."
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