Chapter 255 - Limited Sales

In the end, both sides took a step back and accepted the plan proposed by Xiaocao. It was getting late, so Liu Hu and his son swiftly loaded a carriage and headed to Tanggu Town. The father and son initially thought that they wouldn’t be able to sell many five taels watermelons. Who would have thought as soon as they entered the town with a cart full of watermelons that they would be constantly asked if the watermelons were for sale? Were the watermelons from the Dongshan Village’s Yu Family? Where were they selling them?

The horse carriage soon arrived near Zhenxiu Restaurant. Liu Hu went in and told the head manager what Xiaocao had taught him. The head manager not only agreed, but he also sent a worker to help set up the stall. After that, he gallantly ordered ten watermelons as today’s free fruit trays!

The stall wasn’t even set up yet, but one third of the watermelons on the cart had been sold. Liu Hu held five ingots, which were worth ten taels each, and felt as if he was in a dream.

In fact, he didn’t even have time to stay in a daze. When last year’s customers heard the news, they hurriedly sent their servants over to buy the watermelons, for fear that they would be too late and return empty-handed. In front of the stand that Liu Hu and his son had just set up, they were suddenly surrounded by over ten people. There was someone shouting for two, and another person who wanted to buy five. The scene was chaotic!

Liu Hu and his son protected the watermelon on the stand, for fear that they would be smashed by someone. At the same time, they shouted at the top of their lungs, “Don’t push! Don’t push! Everyone, stop pushing!!”

The head manager of Zhenxiu Restaurant couldn’t stand it anymore and quickly came to help, saying, “Please line up to buy watermelons! There is enough for everyone! If this cart is sold out, you can make a reservation first. Another cart will be sent over in the afternoon!”

When Liu Hu and his son heard that, they said in agreement, “Yes! That’s right! Line up, please line up! We won’t sell them to those who aren’t lined up!!”

Most of the people who came to buy watermelons were servants of respected people in town, and some of them knew each other. Hearing Zhenxiu Restaurant’s head manager say that there was enough for everyone, and at the latest, they would be able to buy them in the afternoon, they stopped frantically rushing forward like earlier.

Soon, a crooked line was formed in front of a simple stall. The street was regarded as street that sold luxury products in Tanggu Town, which was visited more often by the rich. Moreover, all the shops were furnished in a rather fancy manner. People were usually dismissive of stalls that were set up with several pieces of boards, like Liu Hu and his son’s.

Pedestrian on the street looked over with curious gazes. Suddenly, a girl’s excited scream resounded through the skies, “Wow! Watermelon, watermelon!! Older sister of the Zhuang Family, I told you that it’s about time for the Yu Family to start selling their watermelons! Today is indeed a worthwhile trip!!”

Eldest Young Miss Zhuang moved to the side with her maidservant, for fear that others would know that she was with this idiot. Wasn’t it just watermelon? It wasn’t like they had never eaten it before, so was it necessary for her to be so excited?

Eldest Young Miss Zhuang would never admit that the watermelons that her eldest brother brought back from the capital couldn’t compare with the Yu Family’s. They didn’t taste good and there wasn’t enough edible flesh inside. They were so small, and the price was too expensive!

“Qiu’er, go ask if the watermelons are from the Yu Family. What’s the price this year?” Although Eldest Young Miss Zhuang disliked the unpresentable watermelon stand, she missed the taste of the Yu Family’s watermelons. So, of course, she was reluctant to leave.

The maidservant in a green dress beside Eldest Young Miss Zhuang quickly agreed and ran to the stall to inquire. Next to her, it was the second steward of the Yao Estate’s turn to choose watermelons. He glared at her and said, “If you want to buy watermelons, go line up in the back! They won’t sell it to you if you’re not in line!”

Qiu’er ignored him and asked the questions that her young miss told her to ask. She looked at the few watermelons left on the carriage and returned to her young miss with a worried face. She said, “Young Miss, the watermelons sold at the stall are indeed from the Yu Family, but… we might not be able to get any today!”

Miss Wang held her bulging purse and stared at the decreasing number of watermelons. In order to be able to eat to her heart’s content this year, she had saved up money for more than half a year. These days, in order to check whether the Yu Family’s watermelons were up on the market, she found reasons to wander on this street every day. Even the soles of her shoes were about to be worn-out.

‘The Yu Family’s watermelons are finally here, but I can’t buy them. What a pity ah! Oh, that’s right! Didn’t the Yu Family accept reservations for their watermelons last year? If I order two today, I will be able to eat the juicy and delicious watermelon by tomorrow at the latest! I need to quickly line up now!!’

Miss Wang didn’t personally line up with a group of servants. She handed the money to her little maid and told her to quickly get in the queue.

Seeing that the queue was getting longer and longer, the head manager suggested that Liu Hu and his son put forth a ‘purchase restriction’—each person could only buy two watermelons at most. Even so, the forty-some watermelons on the carriage were quickly sold out. Moreover, they didn’t have time to categorize them by size. As soon as the watermelons were placed on the stand, they would immediately have a buyer. The customers acted very swiftly as if they were afraid that the watermelons would be taken by the people in the back if they moved too slowly. Liu Hu only needed to collect the money!

Those who didn’t get to make a purchase continued to wait in line to make a reservation. Liu Hu and his son didn’t know how to write, so the head manager got a staff of the restaurant to help them record the orders. During the registration process, Liu Hu told his son to wait there while he hurriedly drove the horse carriage back to Dongshan Village.

There were still at least two carts of the watermelons picked in the morning. Yu Caifeng, who was weeding in the nearby corn field, saw that her husband had returned after only half a day and curiously asked about it. When she found out the blazing popularity of the five taels watermelons in town, she couldn’t help but be dumbfounded, ‘The townsfolks are indeed rich. In Dongshan Village, even if the whole family worked hard for a month, they still might not have enough money to buy a watermelon. They would be reluctant to even eat fine rice and wheat flour, let alone those expensive things!’

Under Liu Hu’s urge, Yu Caifeng didn’t have time to be in a daze and quickly helped load the cart. There was a total of over fifty watermelons on the cart. By the time the second cart of watermelons arrived in town, it was already afternoon. Many of the servants, who made reservations at the stall, were afraid that they wouldn’t be able to get their products in the afternoon, so they just waited there without eating.

Liu Hu’s second cart of watermelons was just enough for the orders made in the morning. Those who got the news later could only make reservations for tomorrow!

When the second cart was also sold out, the sun was high above their heads! Following Yu Xiaocao’s instructions, the father and son carried the heavy silver to the Zhou Family’s bank and exchanged them for banknotes. After that, they drove the carriage back home.

The father and son were extremely thrilled! They had never seen so much shiny silver ah!! Two carts of watermelons were sold for a total of four hundred eighty-five taels! Fortunately, the bank wasn’t very far away. Otherwise, they would be extremely exhausted just by carrying the money over!

“Father, we sold ninety-seven watermelons today. Younger Cousin said they will give us twenty copper coins for each one. Doesn’t that mean that we can get about two taels?” Liu Junping clenched his fist with slight excitement.

Liu Hu was silent for a long time before he sighed and said, “Junping, you must firmly remember your uncle’s kindness to us! In the future, pay more attention to their family’s affairs. We owe them a big favor!”

In Liu Hu’s opinion, an adult laborer, who worked hard for an entire day, would only be able to earn thirty-five copper coins. The father-son pair had merely traveled to town twice and didn’t do much heavy labor, yet they were able to make nearly two taels of silver. This was his younger brother-in-law’s family helping them ah!!

When they got home, Liu Hu and his son placed 4 one hundred taels banknotes, 1 fifty taels banknote, and thirty-five taels of silver in front of Yu Hai’s family. When Yu Hai gave them the share that they deserved, Liu Hu didn’t refuse anymore. His family engraved this kindness deeply into their hearts. Once the other party needed them, his whole family would do whatever they could to repay them.

With the help of Oldest Aunt’s family, Yu Xiaocao didn’t have to be like last year when she was so busy that her heels barely touched the floor. When the watermelons were finally up on the market, the merchants and villagers, who they previously made a deal with, all began to buy wholesale watermelons from the Yu Family.

Prince Jing’s Estate sent watermelons as gifts, and helped some people find a business opportunity. They inquired about the origin of the watermelons and traveled all the way to Dongshan Village in search of the Yu Family. They wanted to use their status to suppress the Yu Family so that they would only supply watermelons to their own family.

This merchant was closely connected with an idle prince of the imperial family. With the assumption that his status was far superior than them, wouldn’t it be very easy to take control of a little peasant family?

This merchant was quite unlucky. When he went to threaten the Yu Family, Royal Prince Yang had just happened to come to Dongshan Village for an inspection and caught him in the act.

Royal Prince Yang knew that the member of the imperial family that this merchant was close with was his imperial uncle, who didn’t care about anything and was obsessed with cultivation of Taoism. He had a good relationship with the Prince Jing Estate. This merchant was the younger brother of one of his concubines. He always used the prince’s name to dominate the market, and specially picked businessmen with no special background or support to suppress. Unexpectedly, he was actually trying to bully his people today!

Zhu Junyang didn’t notice that he had automatically taken the Yu Family under his wings. In his opinion, the Yu Family was currently working for him and contributing to the imperial court. The merchant was merely the younger brother of a concubine. Who gave him the courage to act atrociously here?

With Zhu Junyang’s violent temper, he immediately ordered his imperial bodyguards to arrest the tactless guy, escort him to his imperial uncle, and explain the situation. Imperial Prince Cheng had long been dissatisfied with this idiot. He always used his status as his younger brother-in-law to cause trouble outside, bringing dishonor to his face! He immediately ordered him to be beaten with a wooden plank, and then he kicked him and his older sister out of the estate.

Zhu Junyang saw that the Yu Family had picked more than enough watermelons every day and heard from Xiaocao that watermelons could be kept for at least half a month, so he had his subordinates transport several carts back and sell them in a fruit store under his lady mother’s name. Not to mention that it wasn’t the season for watermelons to be on the market, even if it was the time for watermelons to be sold, the price in the capital would be multiple folds higher than that of Tanggu Town.  

To hoard a rare commodity and sell it at a high price! The capital didn’t lack wealthy royalties, high-ranking officials, and noble lords. It was often said that one might be able to randomly throw a rod and hit several fifth-rank officials on the street in the capital, let alone rich merchants. The business of Princess Consort Jing’s fruits and candied fruits store suddenly boomed.

This store’s shopkeeper was also an excellent businessman. The quantity of watermelons delivered was limited. Thus, he unknowingly used the ‘hunger marketing‘ strategy of later generations and adopted the measure of limited sales. Only twenty watermelons were sold each day, and each person could only purchase one watermelon per day.

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Myst's Thoughts

candied fruits

Well, the merchant was actually pretty lucky that Prince Yang's temper didn't really act up or he might have been killed...

Translator: Myst