Because Su Tang was still wearing the two white flowers in her hair, anyone who looked at her would be able to tell that she was in a mourning period, which meant her choice of clothing was limited.
That was why the shopkeeper immediately recommended her new white fabric to Su Tang and didn’t mention any of her more brightly colored fabrics, because that might cause the little girl to feel uncomfortable.
Su Tang took a look at the fabric recommended by the shopkeeper and found that it was much thicker than the coarse cloth she had used to make the clothes she was wearing now.
“How much is this cloth?” She asked curiously.
The shopkeeper had only recently got this fabric in a batch of new goods, so it was her usual habit to introduce it to any visitors. When she heard Su Tang ask for the price, she instantly replied, “This fabric costs five copper coins per chi*.”
“That’s really not cheap!” The coarse cloth she had bought before only cost only three copper coins per chi, which meant that this fabric was nearly twice as expensive as coarse cloth.
When the shopkeeper heard Su Tang’s exclamation, she laughed, “Little girl, see for yourself, this fabric is much thicker than coarse cloth, so it’s good for keeping out the cold. If you use this fabric to make cotton-padded clothes they will be much warmer than if you made them out of coarse cloth. It’s both wear-resistant and thick enough to keep you warm in the winter.”
The shopkeeper said all that, so it could be seen that she was pretty good at selling her own products.
However, she wasn’t really exaggerating. Considering those factors it was natural for the fabric to be more expensive, so Su Tang nodded before asking, “Do you only have it in white?”
“We also have it in gray and black. Little girl, how much do you want?” The shopkeeper instantly steered the conversation towards a purchase and Su Tang couldn’t help but think that this lady was pretty good at business.
“Give me three chi.” Anyway, Su Tang had come to the fabric store to buy fabric so there was no need to hold back. When she heard that the autumn harvest was happening she was reminded that autumn had already nearly passed and the weather would only be getting cooler and cooler each day, so it was about time for her to start preparing for the winter.
In addition to making some cotton-padded clothing for both herself and Su Nuo, she also had to make some new bedding. Last time she had come to this store she had found out that cotton was fairly expensive and she hadn’t been able to afford it at the time. But now she had a little more money in her hands. Even if it wasn’t enough to buy farmland, it was at least enough to afford some cotton.
When the shopkeeper heard Su Tang’s immediate decision, she nodded along happily and said, “I’ll cut it for you right away.”
After that, Su Sugar bought some more coarse cloth as well with the thought that it really wasn’t very convenient to wash cotton-padded clothes in winter. As far as she knew, most farmers owned one set of cotton-padded clothes and would wear them all winter long, which naturally wasn’t something that Su Tang could stand doing. After some thought, she planned to make two sets of purposefully over-size clothes from the coarse cloth and wear them on top of her cotton-padded clothes, so that the cotton-padded clothes wouldn’t get too dirty even if she had to wear them all winter.
The shopkeeper rarely saw such a big customer, so she was smiling up to her ears as she watched Su Tang buy all that and then some cotton too before finally ending the purchase.
After that, Su Tang pointed to a set of fine-looking ready-made clothes that were hanging up on one wall of the fabric store and asked the shopkeeper, “How much do those ready-made clothes cost ma’am?”
Since Su Tang was such a big customer, the shopkeep naturally didn’t hide anything and directly told her, “Little girl, you have a good eye. Those clothes are made of silk, which is a very precious material. The whole set costs one tael of silver.”
Su Tang looked at the clothes carefully and found that, though the stitching was dense, the pattern was actually fairly simple, so she asked the shopkeeper, “If I could make clothes like this, would you sell them here for me?”
The shopkeeper clearly hadn’t expected Su Tang to ask a question like that. She was stunned for a moment before she said, “Little girl, it might be hard for you to make clothes like that, they were made by a craftsman who is skilled even among the whole county.”
Clothes made from this kind of precious material weren’t made that often in a small place like Qinghe Town. Because the materials used to make them were so expensive, the clothes themselves were also very expensive which meant that few people would buy them. After all, large families all tended to have their own skilled embroiderers to make whatever kinds of clothing they wanted. In fact, this particular set of ready-made clothes had been hanging up in the shop for a long time without being sold. It was mostly just there for appearances.
“I can give it a try, I think it should be possible. Though, those small embroidered flowers may be a little difficult.” Su Tang said as she inspected the clothes thoughtfully.
The shopkeeper looked at Su Tang for a long time, and she especially paid attention to the fine stitching on the little girl’s clothes. For a while she hesitated to say anything but, eventually, she said, “Little girl, if you can really do it, I might have an idea. If you can really make something similar to those clothes hanging up I could introduce you to some business where you should be able to earn at least a few taels of silver.”
Su Tang had only asked on a whim, so she hadn’t expected that there really was some potential to make money here. She was pleasantly surprised.
*okay so a ‘chi’ (尺) is also called a ‘Chinese foot’ and (per wikipedia) it is: a tradition Chinese unit of length. Although it is often translated as the “Chinese foot”, its length was originally derived from the distance measured by a human hand, from the tip of the thumb to the tip of the forefinger.
I’m not sure if I should leave it as chi or maybe change it to Chinese foot? I decided to use Chi in this chapter but lemme know if you have any thoughts.