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76 The Fourth Miss Explores the Marketplace

    The next day, Yujia found herself in the marketplace, exploring on her own.

    She planned out the entire idea of selling pencils with Hui'er the day before. First, she arranged for Hui'er to go and set up a stall to sell the thirty generic mountain paintings she had on hand, six of which came from yesterday where she painted some more. Each one would go for three taels, but if one wanted to barter, she would be willing to sell them for as low as one tael.

    This guaranteed a minimum of thirty taels to enter her pocket, which meant that Yujia had starting funds for her plan.

    She had around three weeks now to make pencils a big thing in the capital and earn five-hundred taels. It sounded a bit like an impossible task, but Yujia calculated it and if all went well, there was still the slight possible chance that she could make it.

    Once she got the funds for her business, she would go and commission some artisans to craft the pencils for her. Twenty-five taels would hopefully get her at least fifty pencils, and then, the other five would go to setting up a stand that would catch the attention of any potential buyers. This was all, of course, considering that she only received thirty taels from her paintings. If she had more, she would even hire someone to run the stall for her since she needed to keep her identity anonymous, and she wasn't sure how good Hui'er was with running a business.

    She would sell each pencil for a tael, which would give her fifty taels once the first stock sold out. These fifty taels were going to all go to making more pencils. Her goal was that once some people started using them, others would soon catch on and her business would boom.

    Of course, to make sure people had interest in the first place, Yujia would also dedicate some free time to sketching large attention-catching pictures and set aside a few pencils for potential buyers to test out too.

    The big challenge was really time, but if she spent her time wisely, five-hundred taels still seemed probable. Besides, even if she didn't reach that goal, as long as her business was going well, she could hopefully convince her father and strike a deal with him so that the engagement would still be canceled. She was sure that people would at least have some interest in this new tool and method of art.

    Things would- hopefully- work out.

    While Hui'er would sell paintings, Yujia took this time to analyze how the marketplace worked. She wanted to see how art supply vendors sold their goods to customers to gain some extra experience, as well as seeing which stores were the most popular to analyze the general interests of the capital.

    When she asked an older woman about it who seemed friendly enough, the old woman pointed out that there were two big stores in the capital that currently had lots of fame amongst young misses and madams. One was a cosmetics shop with rouge and all that while the other was a silk cloth store that had supposedly the best needlework in the capital. There was also a fairly popular restaurant of small pastries and deserts down the street. As for art stores, Lingxin Pavilion obviously sold the most, so it was considered the best place to buy art supplies at.

    Yujia decided to check out the silk store first. She already looked at the cosmetics store a few days ago when trying to disguise herself, and as for the pastry place, she only had three taels on her. She was sure that she was going to waste all three buying little treats to herself if she went there first.

    Her plan was that by checking out the various popular stores, not only could she learn what the public liked, but she could also see any sort of marketing tricks she might not have known before. She needed to do some quality research before starting her own business, and with online searching not being an existing option, she could only rely on looking around on her own.

    Following the extra instructions of the old lady that she asked about the stores, she quickly arrived at the clothing store. From a first look, business was indeed good. Many women were streaming in and out of the small shop, some carrying new bundles of purchases.

    Walking in, Yujia observed that besides the bolts of vividly embroidered silk, the store also sold premade clothing for both men and women, although the majority of the clothing was for women. Yujia didn't particularly understand silk quality, so she chose to look at the premade robes instead. They all looked like good quality, coming in light shades of every color and having details embroidered along most of the cloth.

    The shopkeeper noticed her interest in the robes, coming over and saying, "Young Miss, this shade of peach pink would look excellent with your skin tone!" She eyed Yujia's clothes and continued, "Perhaps you should try some brighter colors, especially with the festival happening this evening."

    Yujia observed the color of the robe that the shopkeeper introduced to her. Peach pink would indeed make her look more lively than the dead face paired with the bland robes she seemed to wear today. She admired the delicate cloth for a few moments, then asked, "There's a festival?"

    "Yes," the shopkeeper nodded, a strange look on her face, "You didn't know?"

    The shopkeeper didn't seem like the type who wanted to explain more, so Yujia quickly covered up her blunder with a smile. "Oh, I just been so busy recently that I forgot. Right- the festival- how could I not know about it?"

    Yujia looked a bit longingly at the peach pink robes. Xiaoyi frequently wore this shade, and she looked quite cute and spirited whenever she did. If it weren't for the fact that the Fourth Miss only owned white and light blue, Yujia would've loved to wear these colors.

    "How much would this cost?" she asked after a few moments of thinking. She only had three taels, but who knew? Maybe the shopkeeper would want to give her a good deal.

    "Not much, just eleven taels," the shopkeeper responded.

    Eleven taels? Yujia didn't have that much. It seemed like a large amount for just a robe, but considering the exquisite embroidery and the quality of the silk, eleven must've already been a good deal. Now hearing the price, she didn't think the shopkeeper would sell the robe for just three taels.

    With a sigh, Yujia shook her head. "I don't have that much on me as of this moment."

    The shopkeeper gave her a questioning look, as if wondering what person would come to a high-end silk store like this one without at least twenty taels. She turned and went back to her own business and another customer quickly enough after hearing that, losing all her interest in Yujia when other customers definitely were willing to spend more money.

    Yujia spent a few more moments looking longingly at the different silks, as well as observing whatever advertising strategies or attention-grabbing showcases the store had to gain more business, and then she turned around to left.

    Right before she exited the store though, a voice rang out from behind her, yelling, "Wait, stop!"
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