This was the first stable life I’ve had since my reincarnation.
Although we couldn’t live in luxury, we ate every day, studied medicine and gradually learnt how to work. We couldn’t mix the ingredients yet, but we could do simple things like sun-dry the ingredients.
Giselle was a wonderful employer, who patiently and carefully taught us, and she was a quiet person, so she didn’t nag us about what we did.
My sister and I are content and healthy. I have nothing to complain about.
However, on the other hand, I was beginning to have some doubts.
“Hmm, I wanted to ask you something.”
About 20 days after I arrived at the store, I finally asked the owner, who was busy grinding herbs in a mortar at the counter in the afternoon.
“Customers don’t come into this store at all, do they?”
The number of customers that have come to this store since we started working here can be counted on one hand, or even on a finger.
It wasn’t thriving at all.
But we have been learning smoothly thanks to this store having no customers.
“… I told you, didn’t I?”
Giselle grumbled while still grinding the herbs.
“It’s been like this ever since I opened. It’s a good month if I get one customer.”
“How have you been living?”
“I’m managing to survive somehow by eating into my savings.”
Woah, things aren’t looking good~.
She was taking this too carefreely. This was a commercial city where stores are constantly being replaced. It wasn’t like she was an old man running a coffee shop as a hobby after retirement.
“You’re not working in the underworld or something, right?”
“… Who do you think I am?”
“You have all kinds of drugs. So, there should be medicine that makes you feel good, become addicted, and make your head weird.”
“Where did you learn that? You know, dangerous drugs like that can’t be sold.”
Oh, so there are regulations? And you’re complying with them.
She really was a good person!
I was relieved to hear that, but my worries about the business remained.
“Do you advertise? And also, why is the door closed? It’s hard to see that you’re open. It’s also hard to get in.”
“People passing by will run away when the door is opened. I don’t know why.”
I can understand why they would run away when they see someone sitting at the back of the store like an enshrined deity.
There was nothing to be afraid of once you knew her personality, but she was big, intimidating, and didn’t talk or even smile, so I guess she wasn’t the right type of person to go into customer service to begin with.
But if I don’t do something about this soon, we’ll be back to living on the streets.
“――― Rille-nee! We’re going to make a plan!”
I called out to Rille-nee, who was arranging the dried medicinal herbs in the store, and immediately thought of a plan.
I declared that I would increase the number of customers as a condition for her to hire us. Even if we worked diligently, it would be no use if the store went under.
I couldn’t lose the place that I had finally found for us.
I’ve discovered something new since my reincarnation.
Maybe I was rather good at business.
“Welcome! Please try one!”
In front of the store, I served hot medicinal tea that smelled good to the interested people who came.
No one would ignore two cute girls in front of a store, smiling at them and offering them free samples.
“Medicinal tea? You don’t have to be sick to drink it?”
I mainly stopped the wives who were going to the nearby market to shop. The slender person with a stole wrapped around her face was holding the bowl of medicinal medicine and looking at it in interest.
“Medicine has two purposes: those that cure illnesses and those that prevent illnesses.”
“Please have a try. This one contains zarok leaves and sun nuts. It’s sweet and delicious. It’s good for warming up… and stiff shoulders!”
Rille-nee’s explanation was perfect. She did her best to remember this.
“Oh, it really is delicious. I thought medicine is supposed to be bitter.”
The woman took a sip and seemed to like it. This had happened the other times as well.
I continued to explain, while holding up the packet that contained the ingredients to the medicinal tea for the others to see.
“It’s going to get colder from now on. Just mix this powder with hot water and drink it to get warm. See, you’re getting warmer already, right?”
“We’re offering it at a special discounted price right now! You can get 10 packets for 700 beles~.”
“If you have any other problems with your body, you can ask the owner and she’ll recommend you something good. Right, Rille-nee?!”
Finally, I called out to the fierce owner sitting at the back of the store which had its doors opened.
Then, the people who followed me all looked surprised.
“Your sister? This woman?”
“That’s right. She’s our sweet Giselle-neechan!”
A lot of customers ran away after they saw Giselle, so we told the customers that she was a woman first and called her ‘Gis-nee’ to show that she wasn’t scary. I’ve already got her approval.
“Wow, you three sisters are running a store?”
Then they’ll think like this. The fierce shopkeeper quickly transformed into an admirable person who was doing her best to survive with her younger sisters.
“Don’t be afraid! She only looks scary. The other day, a kid came to the store and was scared of her, and she panicked.”
“Aime, don’t talk nonsense.”
She immediately said in dissatisfaction. Some people laughed at that.
“Anyway, feel free to ask if anything interests you. You can even complain about anything. Look around. Consultations are free!”
Some of them entered the store.
Once they knew the owner was a woman, it was easy for them to ask for advice that only someone of the same sex can provide. Gis-nee will prescribe the right medicine for you.
Some people just bought the powder for the medicinal tea that we were offering samples of, so I shared my work with Rille-nee and served customers inside and outside of the store.
Well, we had a good turnout today.
I went to the main street several times a day to sell and advertise the medicine, and we finally started to get some customers.
Unlike wildflowers, medicine was a necessity for daily life, and wasn’t something that couldn’t be sold. If you advertise properly and build up a good reputation, you can easily get customers.
In addition to advertising, the store’s appearance didn’t look nice, so there were humble efforts behind the scenes such as removing the ivy covering the walls to make it look nicer.
And there was something else that I did.
“――― It’s time for me to go.”
As soon as the customers were mostly gone, Rille-nee and I carried bags filled with medicines for wounds, headaches and stomach-ache, to different merchant houses to replenish their regular medicines.
The first thing that came to mind when I heard the word ‘apothecary’ was a medicine seller in Etchu (former province located in present-day Toyama).
It was a nostalgic system where people paid for the amount of medicine they used from the medicine box, and the medicine box was regularly replenished. It was still around when I was a child. But I haven’t seen it since the deregulation happened and medicine became available everywhere.
Since many large merchant houses have live-in servants, I tried to recommend medicines to ease their symptoms when they had minor ailments and was able to successfully negotiate with a few of them.
Like this, I was able to attract customers who do not come to the store and sales have been steadily increasing.
I worked hard during the day and continued to study medicine at night, and time flew by, then before I knew it, the one-month trial period that I had initially proposed had already passed.
We had gotten used to Gis-nee and rarely used honorifics nowadays.
So, I asked her boldly that night when the store was closed.
“You’re not going to throw us out, right?”
When I asked her the important question straightforwardly, Gis-nee replied in amazement.
“I said I got it.”
“Right?! You can’t run the store without us anymore!”
She has a regular customer base for her daily medicines such as nourishment tonics, there are always customers coming to her store every day, and it would be hard for her to replenish the medicine boxes at the merchant houses.
And most importantly, it was impossible not to feel affection for kids who live with her every day and look up to her as a big sister.
Everything went according to plan!
Now I have a permanent place to stay!
Gis-nee must have known that I was making a victory pose in my mind, because she turned towards me.
“… You even took Rille’s cunningness, but you’re a good worker.”
“Gis-nee is a good person. Right?”
I looked at Rille-nee and we smiled.
“I’m going to make this store thrive even more! I’ll make this store bigger and we’ll be able to have a feast every day!”
“We’ll grow medicinal herbs instead of flowers in the garden?”
The florist had turned into an apothecary, but they’re both similar.
As we talked about our dreams, the supposed owner of the store just laughed and said, “Just do what you want”.