The Complete English Tradesman Part 7

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The place, therefore, is to be prudently chosen by the retailer, when he first begins his business, that he may put himself in the way of business; and then, with G.o.d's blessing, and his own care, he may expect his share of trade with his neighbours.

2. He must take an especial care to have his shop not so much crowded with a large bulk of goods, as with a well-sorted and well-chosen quant.i.ty proper for his business, and to give credit to his beginning.

In order to this, his buying part requires not only a good judgment in the wares he is to deal in, but a perfect government of his judgment by his understanding to suit and sort his quant.i.ties and proportions, as well to his shop as to the particular place where his shop is situated; for example, a particular trade is not only proper for such or such a part of the town, but a particular a.s.sortment of goods, even in the same way, suits one part of the town, or one town and not another; as he that sets up in the Strand, or near the Exchange, is likely to sell more rich silks, more fine Hollands, more fine broad-cloths, more fine toys and trinkets, than one of the same trade setting up in the skirts of the town, or at Ratcliff, or Wapping, or Redriff; and he that sets up in the capital city of a county, than he that is placed in a private market-town, in the same county; and he that is placed in a market-town, than he that is placed in a country village. A tradesman in a seaport town sorts himself different from one of the same trade in an inland town, though larger and more populous; and this the tradesman must weigh very maturely before he lays out his stock.

Sometimes it happens a tradesman serves his apprentices.h.i.+p in one town, and sets up in another; and sometimes circ.u.mstances altering, he removes from one town to another; the change is very important to him, for the goods, which he is to sell in the town he removes to, are sometimes so different from the sorts of goods which he sold in the place he removed from, though in the same way of trade, that he is at a great loss both in changing his hand, and in the judgment of buying. This made me insist, in a former chapter, that a tradesman should take all occasions to extend his knowledge in every kind of goods, that which way soever he may turn his hand, he may have judgment in every thing.

In thus changing his circ.u.mstances of trade, he must learn, as well as he can, how to furnish his shop suitable to the place he is to trade in, and to sort his goods to the demand which he is like to have there; otherwise he will not only lose the customers for want of proper goods, but will very much lose by the goods which he lays in for sale, there being no demand for them where he is going.

When merchants send adventures to our British colonies, it is usual with them to make up to each factor what they call a _sortable cargo_; that is to say, they want something of every thing that may furnish the tradesmen there with parcels fit to fill their shops, and invite their customers; and if they fail, and do not thus sort their cargoes, the factors there not only complain, as being ill sorted, but the cargo lies by unsold, because there is not a sufficient quant.i.ty of sorts to answer the demand, and make them all marketable together.

It is the same thing here: if the tradesman's shop is not well sorted, it is not suitably furnished, or fitted to supply his customers; and nothing dishonours him more than to have people come to buy things usual to be had in such shops, and go away without them. The next thing they say to one another is, 'I went to that shop, but I could not be furnished; they are not stocked there for a trade; one seldom finds any thing there that is new or fas.h.i.+onable:' and so they go away to another shop; and not only go away themselves, but carry others away with them--for it is observable, that the buyers or retail customers, especially the ladies, follow one another as sheep follow the flock; and if one buys a beautiful silk, or a cheap piece of Holland, or a new-fas.h.i.+oned thing of any kind, the next inquiry is, where it was bought; and the shop is presently recommended for a shop well sorted, and for a place where things are to be had not only cheap and good, but of the newest fas.h.i.+on, and where they have always great choice to please the curious, and to supply whatever is called for. And thus the trade runs away insensibly to the shops which are best sorted.

3. The retail tradesman in especial, but even every tradesman in his station, must furnish himself with a competent stock of patience; I mean, that patience which is needful to bear with all sorts of impertinence, and the most provoking curiosity, that it is possible to imagine the buyers, even the worst of them, are or can be guilty of. A tradesman behind his counter must have no flesh and blood about him, no pa.s.sions, no resentment. He must never be angry; no, not so much as seem to be so. If a customer tumbles him five hundred pounds' worth of goods, and scarce bids money for any thing--nay, though they really come to his shop with no intent to buy, as many do, only to see what is to be sold, and if they cannot be better pleased than they are at some other shop where they intend to buy, it is all one, the tradesman must take it, and place it to the account of his calling, that it is his business to be ill used, and resent nothing; and so must answer as obligingly to those that give him an hour or two's trouble and buy nothing, as he does to those who in half the time lay out ten or twenty pounds. The case is plain: it is his business to get money, to sell and please; and if some do give him trouble and do not buy, others make him amends, and do buy; and as for the trouble, it is the business of his shop.

I have heard that some ladies, and those, too, persons of good note, have taken their coaches and spent a whole afternoon in Ludgate Street or Covent Garden, only to divert themselves in going from one mercer's shop to another, to look upon their fine silks, and to rattle and banter the journeymen and shopkeepers, and have not so much as the least occasion, much less intention, to buy any thing; nay, not so much as carrying any money out with them to buy anything if they fancied it: yet this the mercers who understand themselves know their business too well to resent; nor if they really knew it, would they take the least notice of it, but perhaps tell the ladies they were welcome to look upon their goods; that it was their business to show them; and that if they did not come to buy now, they might perhaps see they were furnished to please them when they might have occasion.

On the other hand, I have been told that sometimes those sorts of ladies have been caught in their own snare; that is to say, have been so engaged by the good usage of the shopkeeper, and so unexpectedly surprised with some fine thing or other that has been shown them, that they have been drawn in by their fancy against their design, to lay out money, whether they had it or no; that is to say, to buy, and send home for money to pay for it.

But let it be how and which way it will, whether mercer or draper, or what trade you please, the man that stands behind the counter must be all courtesy, civility, and good manners; he must not be affronted, or any way moved, by any manner of usage, whether owing to casualty or design; if he sees himself ill used, he must wink, and not see it--he must at least not appear to see it, nor any way show dislike or distaste; if he does, he reproaches not only himself but his shop, and puts an ill name upon the general usuage of customers in it; and it is not to be imagined how, in this gossiping, tea-drinking age, the scandal will run, even among people who have had no knowledge of the person first complaining. 'Such a shop!' says a certain lady to a citizen's wife in conversation, as they were going to buy clothes; 'I am resolved I won't go to it; the fellow that keeps it is saucy and rude: if I lay out my money, I expect to be well used; if I don't lay it out, I expect to be well treated.'

'Why, Madam,' says the citizen, 'did the man of the shop use your ladys.h.i.+p ill?'

_Lady_.--No, I can't say he used me ill, for I never was in his shop.

_Cit._--How does your ladys.h.i.+p know he does so then?

_Lady_.--Why, I know he used another lady saucily, because she gave him a great deal of trouble, as he called it, and did not buy.

_Cit._--Was it the lady that told you so herself, Madam?

_Lady_.--I don't know, really, I have forgot who it was; but I have such a notion in my head, and I don't care to try, for I hate the sauciness of shopkeepers when they don't understand themselves.

_Cit._--Well; but, Madam, perhaps it may be a mistake--and the lady that told you was not the person neither?

_Lady_.--Oh, Madam, I remember now who told me; it was my Lady Tattle, when I was at Mrs Whymsy's on a visiting day; it was the talk of the whole circle, and all the ladies took notice of it, and said they would take care to shun that shop.

_Cit._--Sure, Madam, the lady was strangely used; did she tell any of the particulars?

_Lady_.--No; I did not understand that she told the particulars, for it seems it was not to her, but to some other lady, a friend of hers; but it was all one; the company took as much notice of it as if it had been to her, and resented it as much, I a.s.sure you.

_Cit._--Yet, and without examining the truth of the fact.

_Lady_.--We did not doubt the story.

_Cit._--But had no other proof of it, Madam, than her relation?

_Lady_.--Why, that's true; n.o.body asked for a proof; it was enough to tell the story.

_Cit._--What! though perhaps the lady did not know the person, or whether it was true or no, and perhaps had it from a third or fourth hand--your ladys.h.i.+p knows any body's credit may be blasted at that rate.

_Lady_.--We don't inquire so nicely, you know, into the truth of stories at a tea-table.

_Cit._--No, Madam, that's true; but when reputation is at stake, we should be a little careful too.

_Lady_.--Why, that's true too. But why are you so concerned about it, Madam? do you know the man that keeps the shop?

_Cit._--No otherwise, Madam, than that I have often bought there, and I always found them the most civil, obliging people in the world.

_Lady_.--It may be they know you, Madam.

_Cit._--I am persuaded they don't, for I seldom went but I saw new faces, for they have a great many servants and journeymen in the shop.

_Lady_.--It may be you are easy to be pleased; you are good-humoured yourself, and cannot put their patience to any trial.

_Cit._--Indeed, Madam, just the contrary; I believe I made them tumble two or three hundred pounds' worth of goods one day, and bought nothing; and yet it was all one; they used me as well as if I had laid out twenty pounds.

_Lady_.--Why, so they ought.

_Cit._--Yes, Madam, but then it is a token they do as they ought, and understand themselves.

_Lady_.--Well, I don't know much of it indeed, but thus I was told.

_Cit._--Well, but if your ladys.h.i.+p would know the truth of it, you would do a piece of justice to go and try them.

_Lady_.--Not I; besides, I have a mercer of my acquaintance.

_Cit._--Well, Madam, I'll wait on your ladys.h.i.+p to your own mercer, and if you can't find any thing to your liking, will you go and try the other shop?

_Lady_.--Oh! I am sure I shall deal if I go to my mercer.

_Cit._--Well, but if you should, let us go for a frolic, and give the other as much trouble as we can for nothing, and see how he'll behave, for I want to be satisfied; if I find them as your ladys.h.i.+p has been told, I'll never go there any more.

_Lady_.--Upon that condition I agree--I will go with you; but I will go and lay out my money at my own mercer's first, because I wont be tempted.

_Cit._--Well, Madam, I'll wait on your ladys.h.i.+p till you have laid out your money.

After this discourse they drove away to the mercer's shop where the lady used to buy; and when they came there, the lady was surprised--the shop was shut up, and n.o.body to be seen. The next door was a laceman's, and the journeyman being at the door, the lady sent her servant to desire him to speak a word or two to her; and when he came, says the lady to him,

Pray, how long has Mr--'s shop been shut up?

_Laceman_.--About a month, madam.

_Lady_.--What! is Mr--dead?

_Laceman_.--No, madam, he is not dead.

_Lady_.--What then, pray?

The Complete English Tradesman Part 7

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The Complete English Tradesman Part 7 summary

You're reading The Complete English Tradesman Part 7. This novel has been translated by Updating. Author: Daniel Defoe already has 393 views.

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