Art of the Sale II: Sana's Story
Sana sipped her tea, then looked at Gakusha.
"My parents started the store many years ago. At first, it was your typical clothing and gift shop, and we did quite well. My mother was the consummate saleswoman, always wanting to not only sell items to people, but to encourage them to come back. The shop was their little secret. Women would get tips on how beguiling the sheer scarves would be to their man; a husband could buy a cheap perfume, but wouldn't he rather show his wife this pretty bottle of it?
Business thrived for a while. I was even sent to private schools, like Fukoma. Then one afternoon, she came into the shop dressed in a strange costume. She said that she was a Majokko witch, and her name was Hasu-Ko, the lily. My father and I laughed and played along. We hardly noticed a difference until the monthly shipments came in. Incense. Tapestries. Big brass figurines. Oils and unguents. Father was furious and put all the items in the back room.
Being young, I turned the new entries into my friends. I had tea with the lion and the dragon. My friends and I draped ourselves in the new textiles. Little did I know the transformation was mother's attempt to drum up a little magic. But it did not work. One morning, there was no Hasu-Ko. And no Mother."
She dried a tear.
"Father did the best he could, but he was no salesperson. I left school to help, but customers did not come in the way they did. Then a man came in and offered to rent our back room. I call him Mr. S. His payment covered our mortgage.
We moved the exotic items to the front and remade the shop as a mystic shop. But business was still slow. One day, Mr. S came out front holding a white dress and asked me to wear it that day for work, and that he would pay me if I did I told myself this is what models do, so I pocketed his money and did it. And when the professor came in, I was to encourage him to return. Early this week, a man in a lab coat comes in. He did not seem to want to buy anything, so instead, I bought a magazine I saw sticking out of his pocket. Men's Health, of all things! It worked. He came back."
"I see. "
"I'm sorry. I just unloaded on you, a perfect stranger."
"No, a friend." Gakusha reached gently for her hand. "What happens next?"
"I'm not sure. I can't just keep buying magazines."
"Would he be up to a scavenger hunt? Maybe he could bring you 3-D glasses from the cinema."
"Do they have them there?"
"Let's go tonight and find out. When do you close?"
"Nine."
"Did you want to change first?"
"I'll pick out something from the shop."
"Nine it is. And I can't guarantee any Kurosawa movies, but maybe we can find something good to see while we are there."
Sana was beaming now. She was going on a date!