Being a merchant is not simple first and foremost. You will deal with many different people from far and near. At times you will have more coin than you can think of what to do with, other times you'll barely scrape by, or even be at your wits end.
If you're not willing to work hard then you'll get no where in this trade. No merchant made it anywhere by sitting on his rear and twiddling his thumbs. He got out in the market to spy the daily prices and sometimes twice or three times throughout that day in fact. He thought long and hard on what he wanted to sell and how well it'd sell; gains and losses included in the best and worst scenario.
Whether you sell produce and grain, tailors goods, armor and weapons, furs, spices, or your blade and those blades that you've in your employ... All goods and services are a trade and a way to make coin. It all depends on the time and place.
In times of conflict weapons, armor, horseshoes, nails, lumber, grain, and other goods that would be of use would sell rapidly, in great abundance, and usually at high price due to their demand. In times of peace when the lull has come, most of such desired goods would be little desired and the prices would either be high due to their limited amounts or if following the conflict, plummet.
Be aware of the times but also know where you are. In Bree we are a simple people and have little use for many weapons, armor, and other goods for fighting. However to the far south or northern regions, rumor is always abound about fighting, where these goods would sell.
Remember too that your blade or the blades of those you employ are also a type of good, but a good in the form of a service. You can sell yours or theirs for great wealth, but at the cost of your or their well being. Mercenaries are thus an expensive good, which is always priced differently.
Just as the skill of a masterwork tailor tailors to the finer qualities his goods, so too can a refined mercenary be found. The prices would vary greatly between the two of them with a lesser in their field. More so when their risk is high!
Hiring a sellsword to patrol a farm would cost much less if it is in a time of peace with little threat. Higher so if it was a time of peace with troublesome folk abroad in the area around. How much more so if that guard was to protect a farm in a place full of strife with danger all around?
Just as the sword, the price of individual goods will equally vary. Foodstuff will sell three times the normal if there is famine, water could be sold for scores of wealth during droughts, and wild game could be fit for a king during the winter times, where salted meats are rare to come across due to the pre-winter stocking of the pantries.
By now you must see that there is indeed much for a merchant to be aware of before pricing his goods! I digress, let us begin with the starting to the making of a merchant.
Even if you had all the goods and services that the land could offer, without a trusted name you'd never do well. Folk would be willing to pay more to those who are of trust-able repute.
Value your name! Nothing is harder to gain but easier to lose, with being even more difficult to regain it, then to start anew! Squash rumors at the bud, let you speak and then act in accordance with your words. Never leave room to doubt your honesty and skill. True it is that I say, that you should never compromise your name and personal code for a few extra coins. You will lose trust, thus losing customers, and as such your source of income, then your luxuries, and it's a subtle but quick decline into poverty and all due to your own ineptness!
Shady dealings are among that which should be declined at the moment of their rumoring. Nothing will befall you quicker then the words of a gossiper. And nothing shall bring the eyes of the Guard upon you quicker with countless questions to batter you into fatigue.
The reputation of others is not something to fear as well; unless you are involved in a trade war with them! Quite the opposite, you should inquire and learn from them, study their methodical ways of their trade. Understanding your competition will allow you to be wiser as a merchant and understand how or why things succeed or fail for some, but the opposite for others!
Know where you are... More so than just literally! Learn the customs to an extent, understand the pleasantries, and how the people of the land live and their views. Only when you know how to go about things, will you be able to go about them with superb skill and precision! A huntsmen shoots a thousand times before he hits the mark right in the middle. A cook, hundreds of dishes before he is unrivaled in that specific dish! A fighter, countless hours brawling; a mercenary, countless hours of practice with his weapon of choice. You will not become a seasoned merchant in mere days, nor ever if you don't even know where you are!
Supply and Demand
Knowing what sells and how often will go hand in hand with Location as well as several other factors to be explained. In lands with winter, at that time or as it draws nearer, the price for meats, hides, wood, and other winter-necessities will soar higher then ever! Why? Because they are in low supply but high demand!
During summer and spring there is wild game every step of the way, so they will be in plenty of supply, even if there are high demands.
Location comes into play in such a way. In barren lands with winter, yet little game, even traveling weeks to sell desired goods there will be more than worth the time spent. How much different when there is a land where snow gathers in winter, while forests and hills are full of game before the first flake falls?
During the summer grain and produce are in abundance, but by winter the pantries slowly wain. How much so if the crops yielded poorly, or if drought came upon and dried up the crops into nothing but tinder? A harsh winter to come and high prices indeed.
If fighting broke out in the region then so too could fields be trampled or burned, salted or reaped. Food already would be at a high price, the coin one would get for mere bushels would be more than five times its normal price if such occurs. What if a drought and conflict occurred simultaneously? With winter fast approaching! Truly the average man would surely be helpless, while the merchant who deals in foodstuffs would be fat and happy, sitting upon piles of coin!
On the topic of conflict, the supply and demand for what was previously spoken of; horseshoes, weapons, armor, ex cetera... Prices would of course be supply and demand.
Of course you'd always be competing with your fellow merchants, so bare that in mind at all times!
So as covered one must always be aware of where they are, what the seasons are, the events unfolding, your competitors, and natural happenings. That are chief influences on the demand of your and others supply!
This is a matter more for peddlers and businessmen who fancy sending wagons abroad to near and far. Weigh in mind the time it takes and what events may unfold.
If it takes a weeks time to reach the destination for one way, then that is two weeks in travel, perhaps another week in just time spent there selling. With weather and unforeseen comings... One could expect a months time before results are shown! This means you must be aware of many different costs that'll occur!
The wages of your employees, the feed for your horses, and even your men if they are under your immediate care. The possibility of broken or lost goods and even unsold goods. One must even consider at the worst the loss of your wagon, horses, men, and goods to either the weather or raiders! At least in such a poor happening, the loss of your wagon, goods, and horses... If not simply the goods and wagon due to a needed abandoning of it!
Be aware of the typical weather that occurs in the region of where you're sending your goods and personnel. Nothing is worst then blind incompetence. Be aware of all you can!
These are the factors to bare in mind when they are already on the route. Much more comes before hand! The gathering of your wagons and horses, your employees and goods, the procuring of rations, feed, and the choosing of a route. All of the required before even moving! Without prior planning, much time can be wasted, and as such, coin lost! Always plan ahead and be prepared for anything!
There is never a need to resign ones self to a sole field; tailoring goods for example--Cloth, hide, boots, clothing, ex cetera. Be diverse! Be daring with exotic items.. However, keep in good terms with the times and where you are, or where you're going as previously noted.
Never feel like you have too much diversity, that only makes way to have something for everything.
Have a short supply of arms and armaments. Shields and horseshoes. Leather tunics, chain mail, or whatever goods of defense that you fancy. Then, have other goods; spices, hides, furs, herbal goods, eatery, or what you may find to your choice for selling. Be ready for all things; Bartering is always optional and possible if you've not the desire for purchase and resale.
Bartering and purchasing goods to resell are not uncommon and often more than naught are a good idea. Trading several pelts and a sword for a crate of boots, which turns into grounded black pepper and oregano, which then becomes something else! It's like the tale of the lad who started with rope and ended with a horse.
Purchasing a blade for two silver coins, only to sell it later in the day or the week for three is truly genius. Await opportunity if you cannot make it yourself. Patience and prudence. Remember; the trade of a merchant is never easy!
If you've not the desire or means to personally acquire goods, then use your coin to your advantage. Employ others to do so on your behalf! Employ huntsmen and trappers to gather game, which leads to hide, fur, meats, and trophies... Salt the meat, find a tannery or do the tanning yourself! Make trinkets or mounts out of the trophies. Sell them, and make profit enough to continue supplying your workers with coin, while making plenty in profit.
Use your head, where there's a person needing coin, there's a way for you to profit mutually.
Peddlers and Traders
There are two distinct kinds of merchants, the one who travels and the one who does not. The first, the peddler, goes from town to town, lodge to lodge, one place to another. The latter is rooted in his place of choice for a long while before, if ever, moving to another. There are benefits to each of these...
A peddler is not limited to the area he finds himself in on the terms of prices or name as much as a trader is. The peddler can travel abroad and sell goods in certain places, generally making high profits occasionally.
The trader is limited to his immediate location unless he sends out goods to other regions, which offer long term gains compared to instant benefits and profits. The trader must also worry more about his reputation, as he is a common face seen daily often, and a name that is spoken of on occasion. The peddler is a face seen on occasion, usually bringing great prices in compared to the standard which has cropped and limited the trader.
However the peddler has no choice for a shop or land and upstanding name as the trader does, who can become a member of the society he is within. First as a shop and doubles as a home and stock for goods needing keep-safe. The trader is also guarded by the laws and protectors of the town or city, whereas the Peddler faces the open road and must depend entirely on his own means and ability, including the upkeep and protection of his being, his horse, wagon, and goods.. Fearful for the peddler that wanders upon brigands.
A wise peddler as thus has a guard, be it an individual or several, if not a group depending on the level of security desired and the needed amount for his baggage train, if there's more than a wagon or two.
What the peddler makes up in more coin than the trader, he makes due with more expenses and danger.
In some lands the coin is different to some extent. So too is the value, so one should always be aware of the coin he is giving and taking in return for goods and services. The purity may be less or more, and as thus when melted and re-minted, should a need arise, it may yield less or more coin after the mint and treasurer take their fees. Foreign lands may prove a boon or a troublesome thing to merchants, especially for peddlers!
Contracts and Writs
Paper and signatures shall save coin and heartache. Take the time to write out as many as a copy as one may need on parchments when concluding and sealing deals. Make them very clear and concise, to the point, and without any room for doubt. Names, goods, coin to be exchanged, or goods if they are in place of coin. Make sure you keep one for each party and have a third within a third party such as the Town Registry as we have in Bree-town of the Bree-lands.
Having these will make debts, purchases, agreements, ex cetera legally bound and any withdraws without agreement can have repercussions. Witnesses to the signing as additional third parties, whom may sign as overseeing the contract, will add even more credibility to the agreements.
Spare no expense when it comes to protecting yourself, your assets, and your business associates. They are your lifeblood, and your blood is more literal than metaphorical in this sense... So protect yourself! Guards, as there's no reason to go through the hassle simply to lose your gains due to oversight or things that could've been prevented... Such as a handful of wishful brigands trying to steal your spoils of a war called table-talks.
Protection of Interests, assets, and goods
If you've warehouses, vaults, or any means of storing and protecting your goods, then do so. Have employees not afraid of a fight to guard them, including property. Pay your guards handsomely and try to be on good terms with them. Nothing is stronger than a happy guard who actually likes who he is working to protect.
Laws and Trade regulations
An additional part on knowing where you are, is understanding the laws and regulations on imports and what can be legally sold. In Bree-lands, poison for example is an illegal good.. Yet to the north beyond Trestlebridge and into the barren lands following the Great Road, it is not, and is purchased at high price constantly for hunting and traps. Or whatever the owner has in mind... Be cautious of shady deals.
Some goods are taxed as well, so bare those goods in mind and always know what they are when you're selling. Understand however that some import taxes can be paid in goods depending on where you're at!
Be wary of whom you interact with. Some merchants are protective and influential. You don't wish to try and enter a duel with a fellow merchant, trying to bankrupt or be bankrupted. Undercutting, slander, the barring of goods, and more come quickly when you enter into such with an individual, and even more so with entire Merchant Guilds and Trading Companies. It is a sour event for all involved, and I would recommend avoiding such strife. They can last until either side draws blood or is bled dry of coin, and things evolve further from there. Coming to terms and meting out agreements and compromises between merchants and guilds or companies can set an idea of how things shall occur... However, while I wouldn't warrant causing this trouble upon yourself, I also wouldn't advocate being strong-armed.
As you start out, or maybe you're presently reading this far ahead of where you first began; branching into the realm of business can be costly and problematic as well as difficult and stressing.
Purchasing land for crops, cattle, and orchards to be your supply when the seasons are in.. Buying into lumbering mills, quarry and mines, fisheries, and other businesses if not starting your own, can be excellent but very pricey. I wouldn't recommend doing anything if you are uncertain and certainly not until you've got everything planned down to the finer points and smallest of details, as the start is always hardest, slow, and bound to fail more easily. A loss is unquestionably destructive to ones career!
This is not only expensive to begin through the purchase of the land, but also the materials to build, or repair, the foundations, necessities, and tools of production; Mill-saws, mine carts, fencing and troughs for cattle, sewing and threading boards, ex cetera.
Next is manning it, that includes the search, interviewing, proving of abilities, and all other logistical means; if they are also put up in lodging on the land, then that comes too the upkeep, feed, and so forth! Not including their initial wages too!
If the land is fresh and untouched, one will spend nearly as much if not more on the building of foundations, structures, and materials. Think hard before going into business!
When you've come to a point where you can take on an apprentice, then you've come to a point of expertise. If you can't teach it clearly, then you're not ready, and only bound to make learning difficult if not teach the apprentice wrong.
Furthermore you should have lessons and tools for teaching at your fingertips for the process.. Some examples are in store below.
Give your pupil the opportunity to sell goods on your behalf, under your supervision, with limited help. A role switch if you will; the pupil is the merchant, and you the aide. Offer occasional advice and corrections.
Have your pupil write contracts, banking statements, and stock and inventory of goods.. Then cross-reference with your own pre-made up-to-date work, and go from there on the learning process.
Make an incentive to learn and progress. Giving a percentage of the coin made for the sales of your goods by them, will inspire them to learn and improve on their art of trade.
Know who you're apprentice is and let them learn of you, as well as your successes and failures. They will learn from you, and in some ways, you from them.
Once they are reasonably comfortable and you deem them ready... Toss them cold fish into the market to sell, buy, barter, and spy on the happenings. Use them till they are tired, and make them keep going. You must reinforce the truth that this trade is harsh and demanding, mentally, physically, and emotionally. It is a stress test! Eventually after a few more of them as surprises throughout your mentoring of them, they'll be used to it and thinking objectively and progressively, instead of defensively and unknowingly; stressing over the simple things and not seeing the whole picture.
Employees; the quality
Seek for the best of the best, but be willing to accept the moderate. If they are not up to par, then you haven't any obligation to keep paying them when they cost more than they provide you. A woodsmen who can't supply you with the arrow shafts, poles, chairs, desk, tables, or whatever you have them working on in a timely manner, to where they cost you, is of no use. They are either lazy, or unable to meet the standard, which will be a lack of experience in hindsight. If you've not the desire to hire a second to work alongside, which one should never task alone however, then replace the sole person with one of better ability and speed. However, know that as we've discussed, it may very well cost slightly more.
Be reasonable with your demands however, as being impossible only shows you to be ignorant, which in many fields the production from raw goods to refined items, most merchants are indeed unknowing of the process, time, or effort required. So... Learn by observing and offering aid occasionally. However, do not get in the way of the worker. You are counterproductive if you're not any help. Tell them what you want, and let them go about it their own way, unless you know for certain fact, that there is a better way. Otherwise, be quiet and let them work!
Remember too that even though it's not needed, an occasional gift or good word publicly when they're around will do unexpectedly well. Compliments are suggested to be added in. They wish to be credited with your success, and as much as you may not be willing to, nor admit it, you're not anything near as productive without your employees. Value them like your guards, and they'll work exceptionally hard for you, because they know they are wanted.
Take time occasionally to relax and enjoy yourself. Visit the bar for a drink and a meal, go fishing and cook your catch, hunt and do the same, or enjoy whatever hobby or past-time you're fancying. Stress and anxiety will ruin the merchant like any other man. I suggest taking occasional break days after large projects. The same can be said for your men. Occasionally, if you've a farm, hunting lodge, mine, or whatever have you... Stop by unannounced and bring drink and food, to enjoy with your employees. This is a double boon, and goes well. But it should be honest, not done through cunning to just appear as if you've a care and a damn for them.
The Quality of the Goods
The raw materials you provide for refining will match the quality that you receive once they are finished, and as such will be influencing on the price of which you sell each item. The finer, the costlier, thus the higher the sale price, which results in more coin for it. However, bare in mind once again where you are. You'd not sell the finest gold jewelry in a poor region or to folk who have no desire, nor should you bring quality steel to a place where most goods are iron or low-quality steel. True, you're making marked up prices, but not many of the items shall sell. Quality goods of highest regards should be sold in a fitting scene. Standard should always be your minimum, and never lower, but not always higher. Sell accordingly, and be wise about it.
Remember that you profit off of the customer. There are countless customers and only so many of you, but there are others besides yourself... And as stated, they'd spend more for better service and a better attitude. A better name for valuing them.
Be polite to your customers and the reoccurring ones who visit you time and again should without doubt be valued even more than ever. A practice used sparsely is the discounting for your valued customers. This occasional "random" kindness, will only bring them back to spend the extra coin saved, and then some. Always strive for a profit, but remember those who allow you to make coin at all!
Discounts suggestively should also be offered to employees without question, and at all times. These are additional benefits and will always result in immediate profits, plus the enjoyment of being able to supply your employees with the very goods they were making, something for them to be proud to own, and for cheaper than any other, while being paid to make it. They gain more than you, not in terms of coin, but of other matters.
There are three kinds of merchants in theory, while each one is all, but is one more than any of the others.
There are the passive merchants who go along with their daily happenings, taking no extra care and caution for their competitors, the prices are standard, they are content and not heavily ambitious.
There's the aggressive merchant, a trader who uses every means available to maximize his profits, expand, and be the leading supplier, even at the cost of making a lot of enemies. He is cunning, strong-armed, and at times a bully. However he is extremely good and ruthlessly effective, always getting results when needed. He is hardly liked, but can't be questioned in his profession and is easily seen as a result-maker.
The last is the defensive merchant, one who keeps his ears and eyes always on alert. He keeps to himself and reveals little about his supply, his means, or anything truly. He is quick to lower or raise prices, guarding his coin like no other.
Now these are in the excess, truly I doubt you'd find any merchant entirely like any of the three, but they are cores from which to pool traits and identify merchants.
Knowing the product
Know to an extent what you are selling. A sword is not just a sword, a horse not merely a horse, and a chair is not only made of just one kind of wood! Oak, mahogany, ceder! Don't be unable to answer the easy questions, poke, pry, and harass(Not legitimately) those who are knowledgeable so that you too may know!
I have covered business, but not the topic of partners. I have covered contracts and writs, but both of the topics; business and contracts come together when speaking of partnership.
If you're supplying goods for another, write up every time a contract! If you are promised a percentage of profits for every sale, draw up the contract on parchment! If the deal offered a piece of land, have it in ink! Leave no room for issue, regardless of how much you trust them! Even family can betray family, how more so for those who're not? Do not be naive! Even friendships and love fade, so too can business partnership, and with it all the problems come from the woodwork. Claims come, but only hear-say is there without paperwork! It'll be a question of story and left to the whim of the politics! The mayor or guards may decide. Do not set yourself up for failure!
Letters, ledgers, Proof of Purchase
Keep letters between you and contacts, these will be physical proof of anything that can occur in the times to come beyond. It's also reminders and things to dwell in thought of when looking back.
Receipts and contracts for proofs of purchase will make things easier, as well as allow you to track what you've spent, when, and makes bookkeeping easier on you.
Ledgers should be employed as bookkeeping tools. Mark your daily or weekly sales, your expenses, income, find your profit from that, include your employees and their wages, and all other information pertaining to you and your trade and/or business. Do not lose track of your spending, and this will also show your habits to which you can learn from. Keep inventory, track prices of imports, exports, and the tax that each face.
Never lose this ledger nor allow it to go into the hands of other merchants.
If you find yourself making contracts for things you do not own, or coin you've not in possession of, then you are indebted. This is a dangerous thing and has led to the loss of freedom and life of folk. When farm owners purchase seed in return for amount of crops but cannot due to poor harvest or drought, trouble comes rather quickly. Lands can be taken, cattle, coin, assets, or whatever of value given over to the lender as collateral.
I would suggest never if within your means, to ever make deals that you cannot keep. It'll result in very horrid things.
The effects of Coin
I've discussed many aspects of how merchants earn coin, are effected by events, but one matter I shall now discuss is quite difficult to understand and must be paid attention to.
In the case of a drought crops whither and die and thus a lack of wheat, barley, and other foodstuffs occur. As such, the prices rise exceptionally high. However, that means that certain individuals will thus have a majority of the coin that the folk of their immediate area possessed. However, it may also mean that no coin is spent in their own towns, but instead on traveling peddlers who come through with food. That peddler or those individuals will have all the peoples coin.
But what if the peddler leaves after barely spending any of that coin he amassed? Or say that the select individual farm-owners and merchants that profited heavily, decided not to spend even a fraction of their makings? The result is frightening.
There will be less coin in the region, or less of it in the peoples hands! This will cause prices to change dramatically! This means that we, as merchants, will also lose coin, as there'll be none to earn, for there's none for our customers to spend!
As such, you must always be prepared for the coming of anything, and aware of all that you're able. Do not waste away your coffers, nor simply hoard every coin you've made! The coin must continue to be exchanged!
But what of the opposite? What if more coin was brought into the region in mass? Coffers upon coffers?! Then the value of coin would decrease some much that it'd be near worthless, and so prices would rise high above normal to match the sudden increase of coin! And then, travelers who come will come short, due to not having nearly the coin or goods to counteract the flux of the region he has entered! Goods and services will increase or cease!
Coin is truly a dangerous thing. If either were to occur, exports and imports would suffer, peddlers would almost certainly find elsewhere to go, and a time of hunger and chaos would take hold on the unfortunate region which this'd occur at!
Guilds and Trading Companies
I fully advocate joining of a company or guild. The benefits that come from this are unquestionable. Making deals with your fellow members, seeking advice, and even at times if you're debt is repayable, the debt can be turned to the Guild, and you're debt is then termed with them instead! As such you can come to an agreement of how to repay now the guild, for your blunder.
Information and ideas flow freely and one can never be full on either. Within Bree-town, there is not a Guild per-say, but certainly a gathering of folk whom are dedicated to trade and mercantile.
Wherever you're trade keeps or takes you, learn from each guild you come across. Many deals can be found there, including desired goods and services for fair prices.. In my experience at least here in Bree.
Befriending the members of your guild can yield favors, and unique prices and opportunity on their goods, while expectantly they'll desire the same in return. Never be too good for such things.
Trading Companies are excellent for wide diverse ranges of goods and services. Adding in yours with theirs presents unending chances, similar to that of a guild.. While guilds are a gathering of like minded individuals, a Company is more directed towards certain agendas. Guilds are loose and support individual progression, as that in turn benefits everyone in the guild. If you find yourself with chance to join either, think of what you are seeking more; independent growth and building of assets, or a central focus with unending resources.
From raw to refined
I have spoken on the pricing of goods and how the quality of the material shall be involved but I will now speak on the process and whether or not it is worth it to do so, or purchase the goods as is. Or, to use refined materials in the crafting of other products.
If one is to start with the wood, or the ore, or the seed, or the spool and thread, then one must think of the times of time and price it will require to have a finished product.
From the mill comes the timber, which is then whittled and cut by either yourself or a carpenter, woodsman, whatever title he chooses. From there it is either sanded down and smoothed as a finished good, or turned into another raw material. In example, timber into dozens of arrow shafts. The wood went from one form of raw material to dozens of the same different raw material. Taking feathers, arrow-heads, and then combining them produces a final product; the arrow.
The ore is mined, carted, melted down, and then made into bars. Whether that is your final product, or another raw good, is entirely up to your objective as the merchant. If it is still raw goods, then it's taken to a smith and made into either products or raw materials once more; plates, chain-links, hilts, hafts, ex cetera. However, it can be made from those into products of their own again, or left as the finished product; still a raw good, but a final product in your mind. Sword, armor, horseshoe, it is your mind and choice.
The same can come from any specialty of which you dab into for trade. The point being the costs of either route. Is it cheaper to go through the process of purchasing raw unrefined ore, and then go through the refining process until you've reached a desired end? Or is it cheaper to buy the ingots and have them forged into your desired end? Or, will it be less coin out of your pocket to just purchase the mid-process of refined material? Purchase the chain-links, and then supply them and coin for the making of armor? Or is the final option less expensive? Buying the final product and reselling it?
The second question to consider is whether or not you've the time or patience in abundance, or the coin in plenty? If you've less coin, then you've more time in many cases. If more coin, less time. However, if you've both in plenty, then it's the task of seeing which profits you more.
Once you've decided the quality of your materials, which route will be more profitable, and where you are intending to sell, as well as the expense it'll be to make the final products possible, you've then a firm idea of what you're minimum sale for profitable gain is, and then can gauge and prod the market for that minimum at least or strive for more, if not to double your gains!
Remember that you must be aware of all means and prepared to wait for the opportunity desired if needed.
The merchants stall
A big tent with a table and crates strewn with your goods is the first step to hawking wares out in the market. It's property of your own on your own little piece of land; albeit a few yards, but still yours.
You can do everything business related here, even storing goods if you're trusting of the place.. Although I fully suggest storing them in secure places if you're not present.
From dusk or early morning till dawn or late evening, whenever you are there, you're known for being there. Customers will know where to go and have the choice of goods and knowledge of whom they're dealing with. This is the starting stage and the beginning towards owning a shop for the simple trader. Finding an ideal place where everyone comes across is possibly the best choice, but it's never cheap nor easy to get the choice locations in the market.
The stall is an asset and when you're prepared to move onto better, it can be sold or with contract, passed into the hands of someone else; your apprentice for example. Once they are ready, of course. In a way, you can be selling in more than one place if the coin and personnel is available!
Owning a shop is the height of success for a trader. It's secure and spacious, you can store goods, sleep there, and it is worth more in name and appearance than a stall. You're expenses are lowered and allows you for hiring employees to man the shop on your behalf, or your apprentice should you not have desired to put the stall in their hands.
Selecting a name may be the difficult part to begin. Something that stands out and is unique.
Having a place of storage for some if not all your goods also makes logistics easier too. It is a one point stop for mostly everything needed.
Make sure you waste no expense in the securing of your shop! Shops aren't mobile, and less you've guards outside at all time... They are easy targets for thieves! Bar the windows, reinforce the door, add sturdy locks--more than one lock! If you've a shop with wide swinging dual-doors, than a key to the shop is one source of protection, but so is chain and a padlock connecting the doors to keep them closed! Even one or two guards throughout the night is plenty if you've the coin and the will.
The Kings Currency
Also known as gold coins. These are far too costly and easy to lose! I would sooner take two chests full of silvers that make up for a sole coin of gold! It's much easier as well when it comes to purchases.. Who tends to have on their person or immediate area, enough coin to exchange in turn for a gold coin?
Do not be a victim of circumstance, I advise having silvers and coppers every single time, never gold! How easy it is to lose a copper, same can be said for a silver, and even a golden one!
For those with wealth, the treasury, bank, vault, whatever it is called in your lands... Such is a place to stock your coffers. With a writ, large purchases can be exchanged on the leisure of the seller. The buyer receives a parchment proving purchase, distributed to three parties, and the seller receives the coin or a writ to where the coin can be collected. Make sure you keep such a thing logged in your ledger!
Signed: Lan, merchant of Bree.
This is what I wrote for those curious as to, or are currently a merchant or peddler. I am Lancastor from Landroval and hope that all who read this take something from it. Below are also prices of goods. The reason as to why I use them also follows.
1 Pence = 72 coppers 16 ounces = one pound
1 Shilling = 12 pence ( 8 silvers 64 coppers) 8 ounces = a cup
1 Pound = 20 pence ( 17 gold 2 silvers 80 coppers)
(These prices following are lower then the estimates I could gather from a few hours of researching Medieval price ranges. It is using the prices of 1200-1400 Europe as basis, and then converted to the Lotro currency rate by estimates, and then appropriated either higher or lower to what few prices were offered in the books. This is a loose comparison made as close as I could make it to realistically reflect the time period and the conflicting sources. I welcome any and all uses of these prices.)
Bow: 2-5 silvers
Quiver of arrows(15 arrows): 70 coppers
‘Heavy Armor’(Half-plate and Mail): 50 silvers(Entire set)
‘Medium Armor’(Leather): 20 silvers(Entire set)
Spear: 2 silver – 4 silvers
Sword: 2-5 Silvers
Great(Anything): 5-8 silvers
Axe: 2-4 silvers
Mace: 2-5 silvers
Shield: 2-5 silvers
Bottle of Tea: 3 coppers
Mug of Ale: 1 copper
Pint of [Ale]: 2 coppers
Mug of Mead: 4 coppers
Pint of Mead: 5 coppers
Fox Pelt: 16-20 coppers.
Hare Pelt: 10-16 coppers.
Elk Pelt: 18-21 coppers.
Bear Pelt: 47-65 coppers.
Boar Pelt: 17-26 coppers.
Badger Pelt: 13-17 coppers.
Wolf Pelt: 20-22 coppers.
Spade: 40-60 coppers
Shovel: 50-70 coppers
Cow: 3 silver – 5 silver
Sheep: 50 coppers – 1 silver
Pig: 2 silvers – 3 silvers
Chicken: 40 coppers – 80 coppers
Barrel: 2 silvers – 5 silvers
Iron Ingot: 80 coppers – 1 silver
Steel Ingot: 95 coppers – 1 silver 20 coppers
Iron Nails(Dozen): 14-17 coppers
Steel Nails(Dozen): 17-20 coppers
Pepper Spice: 14 silvers 56 coppers per pound(16 ounces) / 7 silvers 28 coppers per cup(8 ounces)
Book: 1 gold – 3 gold
Shoes: 2 silvers – 4 silvers
Boots: 4 silvers – 7 silvers
Hat: 5 silvers – 7 silvers
Fancy Hat: 6 silvers – 10 silvers
Simple linen cloth/wool cloth short: 60 coppers – 1 silver 10 coppers
Silk clothes: 20 silvers – 40 silvers
Silk cloth: 4 silvers – 10 silvers per 7 yards of silk cloth
Wagon: 15 silvers – 34 silvers
Young horse: 8 silvers – 14 silvers
Old horse: 6 silvers – 10 silvers
Candles: 2 silvers – 5 silvers per pound(5 Candles) / 1 silvers – 3 silvers (Per ½ pound[3 candles])
Bucket: 60 coppers – 2 silvers
Large table: 2 silvers 40 coppers – 4 silvers
Small table: 1 silver 20 coppers – 3 silvers
Chair: 80 coppers – 1 silver 20 coppers
Mercenaries: 2 silvers – 7 silvers (Per week)
Bushel of Wheat: 3 silvers – 5 silvers
Bushel of Corn: 2 silvers – 6 silvers
Bushel of Oats: 1 silver 40 coppers – 3 silvers
Eggs: 14 coppers – 26 coppers per dozen.
Nuts(Any): 60 coppers – 1 silvers per pound
Honey: 30 coppers – 40 coppers (Per 8oz) / 50 – 80 coppers (Per pint)
Milk: 40 coppers– 70 coppers (Per Gallon)
Butter: 40 coppers – 1 silver per pint(16 ounces)
Salt: 1 silver – 1 silver 50 coppers (Per pound(16 ounces))
Apples: 1 coppers – 2 coppers per
Rabbit(Alive or ready to cook/freshly skinned): 1 silver 30 coppers – 2 silvers 10 coppers
Fish: 2 coppers – 5 coppers per
Cheap quality wine: 4 silver – 10 silver per gallon
Expensive quality wine: 10 silvers – 30 silvers per gallon
Glass of cheap quality wine: 60 silvers – 1 silver 20 coppers
Glass of expensive quality wine: 2 silvers – 3 silvers
Small Sack of coal(Approx 28 pieces): 60 coppers – 90 coppers
Ginger: 6 silvers – 9 silvers per pound(16 ounces) / 3 silvers – 5 silvers per cup(8 ounces)
Cinnamon: 15 silvers per pound(16 Ounces) / 6 silvers – 9 silvers per cup (8 ounces)
Sugar: 10 silvers – 11 silvers 56 coppers Per pound(16 ounces) / 4 silvers – 6 silvers per cup (8 ounces)
Mining Cart full of Coal: 15 silvers – 17 silvers 60 coppers
Coffee: 20 silvers – 40 silvers per pound(16 Oz)
Clay Pottery: 60 coppers – 2 silvers (Depends on design, size, and paint colors)
Unskilled Laborer: 2 – 5 silvers weekly
Skilled Laborer: - 4 – 10 silvers weekly
Hand mirror: 74 coppers – 1 silver 5 coppers
Mirror: 1 silver – 3 silvers (Size dependent)
Bed sheets: 3 silvers – 8 silvers (Depending on Textile)
Curtains: 2 silvers – 10 silvers (Depending on Textile)
Mind that if you look at the very little info that was provided in the Books, there isn't really much to go off of. Educated estimations based off of different currencies and their rates. Lotro Coin Rate for example. (100 Coppers = 1 Silver / 1000 Silvers = 1 Gold)(Conversion of Shillings to Pence to Pounds,)(Limited info from books on the Cost of a few select items inflated[Example being Bill the Pony baught from Bill Ferny at an outrageous price])