TOFUH – Chapter 39 – Making money in Fucheng

In ancient times, information was not smooth, logistics were not convenient, and the common people had very little money, so the majority of merchants did very little business. Although there were also rich businessmen, they were few in number in the end, and in order to make a lot of money they were all basically related to the government.

Because of this, those merchants who came together with them to purchase goods were afraid to buy too much. In fact, with the current situation in Hecheng county town, the people could only consume a certain amount of the goods they had bought.

When Jiang Zhen bought a shipment of goods like this, they all thought Jiang Zhen was crazy.

Wang Haisheng was also a little worried when he heard their words. They did buy a lot of goods. He felt that they had bought so many things, that they wouldn’t be able to sell them for the rest of their lives . . .

But at least they were real things that were also very durable. If they couldn’t sell them, they could still eat them themselves.

“We’re going to travel around and sell at the same time,” Jiang Zhen explained but didn’t say that he actually planned to sell in Fucheng. Of course, even if he told these people that he wanted to sell in Fucheng, they probably wouldn’t have understood. There were seafood merchants in Fucheng as well. If Jiang Zhen went there to do business, how could he win against the local merchants?

“So it’s like this. If you visit more remote villages, you should be able to sell some.” He looked at Jiang Zhen and Wang Haisheng compassionately. Their business didn’t have a shop, so they had to run around like this . . .

These seafood merchants stayed in the fishing village for two days and one night before leaving, and Jiang Zhen took this opportunity to understand the situation of the fishing village and the private salt he had thought about before.

The price of salt outside was very expensive, but in this fishing village, no one makes and sells salt for any reason whatsoever.

At present, the salt-making process couldn’t compare to that of later generations. The salt of later generations is all baked out, and it does not require much manpower or material resources. Therefore, the salt in the supermarket only costs two or three yuan per pack, but it was different at present.

At present people made salt mainly by cooking. This way, salt production was more troublesome, and firewood was also needed. Because of this, it was easier to control the people from the other side of the salt field and prevent them from making salt. For example, the people from Hongjiang salt field would send people over to this fishing village from time to time to have a look. If they found out that someone was cutting trees or boiling too much salt, they would kill or capture them. Over time, no one dared to cook too much salt.

After learning more about it, Jiang Zhen let go of his previous idea of selling private salt.

He didn’t feel that he was rebellious about wanting to sell private salt, because he didn’t have much sense of belonging to this current dynasty called Qi Dynasty. So he didn’t regard it as his own country at all, and the price of the necessities in life was too high for many people to afford to consume.

Of course, he didn’t intend to claim justice for these people. Originally, he had that idea mainly for the sake of his own life. Similarly, if he had gone back to the sixties or seventies, in order to live a good life, he would probably secretly do some speculative things, like selling eggs or food stamps. After all, in essence, he did agree with such a system.

However, he wanted to sell private salt mainly in order to improve his own life, but he didn’t intend to lose his life. When he found out that the road was too dangerous, Jiang Zhen decided to let it go, but it was still a pity. It was really too easy to make money these days.

Their small fleet set out again in the early hours of the morning, and when they arrived at the place where they had been charged a toll of 200 copper pennies before, someone came on board for a check.

On board came fierce-looking men, and after they got on, they started checking the things on the boat, especially the salted fish.

Jiang Zhen was relieved to see this. He had noticed before, that no one who went with him had bought too much salted fish. After thinking about it, he didn’t buy too much salted fish either. Now it seemed that he did the right thing.

“What are you doing with these things?” After checking the cargo on Jiang Zhen’s boat, a man stabbed a clam with a knife.

“It was for free.” Jiang Zhen reined in his urge and assumed a weak presence.

“Not for free either!” The man laughed and then stretched out his hand to Jiang Zhen. “Come on, two silver.”

Jiang Zhen didn’t say anything and gave the other party two silver.

“You are new, but you are a fast learner.” The man jumped off the boat and left.

Their small fleet was released, and it was not until then that those who came here with Jiang Zhen mentioned some rules to him, such as when you buy two hundred kilos of salted fish or more, you must provide at least one or two silver, which can only be more, not less.

These people didn’t seem to reject Jiang Zhen, but in the end they didn’t like him after all. Jiang Zhen didn’t think it was strange. After all, no one liked people who competed with them in business. They were already kind to him by taking him with them.

After saying farewell to those people, Jiang Zhen split up with them. He and Wang Haisheng didn’t plan to return to Hecheng for the moment but to travel to Fucheng.

Jiang Zhen already had an idea about how to sell his own cargo in that seaside fishing village.

It was almost a day’s trip to Fucheng from that sea village. Jiang Zhen and Wang Haisheng traveled slowly along the river, and in the evening, they arrived in Fucheng.

Along the way, both Jiang Zhen and Wang Haisheng were very busy. One of them rowed, and the other one soaked the kelp. At first, they used the traditional method of cutting the kelp into several sections before soaking it. But later, Jiang Zhen got tired of it. He couldn’t use too much water on the boat, so he simply tied up the dried kelp with a rope and threw it directly in the water, letting it soak in the river first before fishing it out.

After fishing the kelp up, they took a brush to brush and clean it piece by piece.

As for why Jiang Zhen did this, it was related to the way of eating dried kelp and the way people sold kelp at present.

People who lived by the sea would make dried kelp and sell it to seafood merchants. When the merchants sold it, they would also sell it directly dry.

However, the handling method of dried kelp was very troublesome. Apart from being soaked for a full day and a night, it also needed to be washed. Dried kelp, when bought, looked very small but it would turn very big after being soaked!

Often, families couldn’t finish their purchased kelp even after several days; after all, after you eat too much, you would grow tired of it.

Because of this, in modern times, no matter if in the supermarket or at the vegetable market, kelp is basically sold cut into pieces. Customers buy as much as they want, but at present, everyone only sold dried kelp.

The dried kelp was black and grey, and it really didn’t look good. The price of a piece of kelp was not cheap either. If you were to convert it, the price of a kilo of kelp would be the same as that of pork. Even if a kilo of kelp was soaked, there would be a lot of it, but except for New Year, common people were really reluctant to spend money on it.

Jiang Zhen was going to cut the kelp and then sell it.

It takes a lot of work to do this, but if he could sell it, he estimated that he could earn a lot more than selling dried kelp, and it was easier to sell it that way.

When they arrived in Fucheng and stopped outside the city, Jiang Zhen and Wang Haisheng were busy navigating the boat.

They soaked the kelp in the river and washed it clean, cut off the parts that didn’t look good, and then cut it into thin shreds. They had been cutting kelp all day, and their hands were sore when they finally cut three hundred kilos of kelp out of only one hundred kilos of dried kelp.

What’s more, a bundle of dried kelp was originally not enough to fill their boat. But it became much more after soaking it, so much that they couldn’t fit it on the ship!

The city of Fucheng was very large and prosperous and not comparable to Hecheng county town at all. Every morning, people from outside the city would pick up their vegetables to sell in the city. Some of them sell on the streets while others – in fixed places.

On this day, a boat appeared in the river in Fucheng. Two men came down from the boat and brought out a lot of salted fish and kelp. They were obviously there to sell seafood.

There are special shops selling seafood in Fucheng and the people there liked to go to familiar places to buy, so at first no one noticed them or bought things from them until one of them shouted, “Kelp! A bowl of kelp for a penny!”

A penny for a bowl of kelp? How could they sell kelp in a bowl?

Many people were surprised to see that someone was selling cut small green kelp, which was already clean and looked attractive.

“How much for this kelp?” asked an old lady with a basket in her hand.

“That costs one copper penny.” Jiang Zhen picked up a handful of kelp and gave it to the old lady.

He put a handful of kelp and it looked like a lot. But when they go home and cook it, they could indeed have a bowl of kelp, and it didn’t weigh much. At least, when Jiang Zhen sold it like this, he would make two or three times as much as if he would sell dried kelp.

After packing it, the old lady was very satisfied. She was reluctant to buy dried kelp for twenty or thirty coppers, but she was willing to spend one copper to add an extra dish on her table.

After the old lady took the lead in buying kelp, other people came as well. Most of them asked for one copper of kelp. But some of them wanted two or three coppers of kelp, so they wanted Jiang Zhen to pack more as a discount.

“If I give you more, I am going to lose money.” Jiang Zhen smiled and didn’t give others more kelp for free, but he instead took two clams from the side and gave them away. “Take these. You can give them to the children to play with.”

Many people in this city had never seen clams, so they were shocked. “What is this?”

“Clams are from the sea. The meat in them can be eaten, but it’s not much,” Jiang Zhen said. When he was in Hexi Village, he always felt like a stranger, and he didn’t like attracting clients with such a smile by nature, but he was short of money now.

What had he not done on a mission before? Wasn’t it just selling things with enthusiasm? In fact, it was nothing. Of course, he had to do this mainly because Wang Haisheng couldn’t attract customers, and he couldn’t count or calculate money either.

Jiang Zhen’s stall was on the river bank, and their ship was in the river. Now Jiang Zhen was in charge of selling, while Wang Haisheng continued washing kelp.

They had to soak the kelp for at least a day before they could sell it. Wang Haisheng was now busy with the next day’s business.

Jiang Zhen picked up a lot of clams and mainly used them as an addition. He even sold some of them for three coppers per kilo. When selling them, Jiang Zhen would say, “There is sand inside. If you want to eat it, you’d better keep it for a few days. Otherwise, you can dig out the meat, wash it and cook it with salted vegetables.” People here often cooked mussels with salted vegetables.

At the end of the day, three hundred kilos of kelp were sold with a lot of salted fish and even half of the clams were sold.

The price of salted fish they sold was the same as that of others, so they didn’t earn much, but the kelp was very profitable. Although the price was cheap, they still made good money after adding it up. It was just that selling all the kelp would take many days, and they would be very busy during this period of time.

The night before, Jiang Zhen was so busy with the kelp that he didn’t sleep well. He really didn’t want to work until late at night. After thinking about it, he simply spent two salted fishes to hire a 12- or 13-year-old boy to help.

The next day, Jiang Zhen continued to sell kelp.

The people who had bought a penny of kelp the day before had basically eaten up all the kelp they bought. Some of them bought more today. In addition, they also brought in some new clients . . .

Within ten days Jiang Zhen and Wang Haisheng sold all the kelp, but in the last few days, their business was not very good, because the other seafood merchants in the city also learned to wash and cut the kelp before selling it.

He finally came up with a way to make money, but he could only use it once. Jiang Zhen felt it was a pity, but he was very satisfied after counting the money he had on his hand.

He had spent about 12 silver on this purchase adding the money spent on travel, but he earned 30 silver in the past few days. In other words, he made a total of 18 silver on this trip, almost earning back the money he had spent for the boat. There was also a lot of sea cargo left on the ship.

Of course, making money was making money. But they also got tired. 

After Jiang Zhen discussed it with Wang Haisheng, they decided to take a day off before going back. But they didn’t know that during that time, Zhao Jinge’s family had been entangled in troubles.

Edited by : Faro

Proofreader: Taalia

Support translation:

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This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Zo Arai

    I knew I shouldn’t be too hopeful.
    Nevertheless, I’m still grateful he can earn some money from selling the seafood.
    Thank you for the update ❤️

  2. Blood

    Thanks for the chapter! ^ ^

  3. middy1607

    Ah damn. Don’t tell me that bastard whose wife ran away made trouble for Zhao Jinge because his proposal was turned down?? Thanks for the chapter!

  4. Arendsii

    This was a surprisingly smart business move! Finding ways to make expensive things cheaper for the people who can’t afford much, it’s genius!

  5. Cocole

    Great business sense 🎉🥳👏👏

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