The Semaine Sundry
The Sundry was one of several shops in one of several markets and was operated by equally non-descript merchants and vendors. As a sundry store it carried primarily consumable goods such as manufactured soaps, spices, finished cloth, and a hodge-podge of other goods. It had steady business but nothing that was reliable. The stock of the store changed on a month to mont basis and while one month they would have plenty of soap, the next month it could all be gone and no more to be seen for six months.
The New Proprietor
As the vicissitudes of capitalism caused the shop to regularly change hands, none of the local merchants batted an eye when the thun unnamed shop was leased by a whip thin and very proper gentleman named Algus ‘Baldric’ Balde. Algus was a foreigner, though nothing that the locals would have considered exotic. He also had a keen sense of business and a steady hand for working leather. While the shop still did a good bit of the same old shop-a-day stocking, Algus also did a good bit of leatherworking on the side.
Eventually he even joined the tanners guild and was then fully endorsed to make leather goods. The most prominent of these leather goods were the excellent scabbards and baldrics, or sword-belts, that he made. Many of these were hevily embossed, detailed, inlaid with silver, and all sorts of other flash and dazzle. Soon algus was known as Baldric since few could get him name right, and his leather goods were top notch.
Cometh the Frog
Philogenus Psil, also known simply as Frog, was every inch the ideal salesman in the time before salesmen. He was short and wide, his smile large and accomodating. Unlike others who viewed their customers as necessary evils, Frog was a man of the people. Gregarious to a fault, the man spent his life as a wandering Tinker, selling everything conceivable from his wagon until he encountered Baldric in his small town shop. The two men struck off on a wonderous rapport and were soon in business with one another.
Frog’s wagon trundled around the local area of villages and towns, laden with baldrics, belts, harnesses, and other leather goods and items left over in the shop. Business was grand as Frog knew just where to take items to get the best deals, and where he go to get rid of old stock that had been on the shelves far too long.
The First Shoppe
It was within two years of the initial meeting that the two redid the shop and changed the way that they both did business. The wagon was no longer going to be trundling from village to village, and the namelss sundry store was no more. In his various travels, Frog had made contact with many artisans and craftsmen who had skill and product, but lacked the coin to open a shop, so their wares were left unsold, or even unmade. Baldric changed his shop to be a front for these various cottage craft folk as well as his own goods.
It took a few years for the idea to really take off, but when it did, it made both men comfortable in their pockets. While still a shop, many merchants and people in the buyers market considered Baldric and Frog to be finders, commisioners, and locators. Some of the most prominent of their goods were custom made saddles, leather belts, weapons, and knives.
With heavy ledgers and thick books of records of suppliers and supplies, merchants and taxes, Frog was drawn to an idea. He created a much slimmer codex, one that could be written in short time. It detailed the goods that the duo could provide, estimated costs and even estimates of how long it would take for said item to be delivered. The cost of having the catalogs printed/scribed was hefty, but soon paid itself back in full. The tomes were shipped to various villages and townships that often lacked merchant’s markets, or were limited to the rare market day. Now these smaller dorfs, hamlets, and thorps could send a piece of parchment and a deposit and within a week to a month have their needs filled rather than waiting on irregular tinkers and such.
So long as the two were only meddling in the general region around their base town, the larger guilds had no interest in their venture. It wasn’t until Baldric and Frog’s was commisioned by the crown to procure over 500 saddles for the royal cavalry that the other merchants took notice. Such an order would have floated the Saddlemakers and Harnessmen’s Guild for two years or more, and it was given instead to some foreigner, who was not even in the saddler’s guild!
Insult was added to injury when many of the Guild’s goods started being passed over for being of lower quality and higher price than those offered by the shop and its catalog. While resentment grew among the major guilds, support from the smaller guilds was falling away. it was more feasible for the less populous and poewrful guilds to get on good terms with the new business magnates. By associating with the two, they increased their own fortunes, as Frog’s marketing worked well with their less than common product.
While in history, this tale would go on to become the foundation of a massive department store, such as it’s inspiration, Sears and Roebuck, such is not the fate of Baldric and Frogs. As men ahead of their time, they encounter the limitations of their times. There are only two of them, and the thought of opening another store has never been an option. The duo is often overworked, despite having a large number of employees, scribes, clerks, and dispositionaries. Much of their work is centralized around their hometown or city, and a few major cities within a week or two’s travel.
Their expenses are often hefty, in the form of lost or stolen goods, hired protection for wagons and sales that are declined at the last minute. The deposit is retained, but it is seldom a large enough sum to counter the cost of the goods made.
The Book - Equipping PCs can often be a hassel, need a saddle, find the saddlemaker, need a sword, well they dont sell scabbards with the swords, need some candles, find the chandler. With access to one of Baldric and Frog’s tomes, they can scribble off an order send some gold pieces and in a short time have their order filled. Medieval economics were just that, medieval. Baldric and Frog’s provides a way for the PCs and DM to not get bogged down in the often tedious system of medieval commerce.
Semaine Duty - The PCs have been hired by Baldric and Frog to guard a large shipment of goods through a contested area. The PCs get to escort several wagons of saddles, scabbards, food goods, and other consumables from bandits in the area. If they do well, the buyers of the goods, locals, will offer the PCs a new contract to help them then hunt down the bandits that have been raiding them. The shipment is gear to equip their militia as cavalry!
Sabotage! - The PCs have been hired by the Thieves Guild to cause all sorts of trouble for the duo, be it looting a shop for gear, raiding caravans or the like. It is easy work at first for the PCs with hefty pay-outs. Things become more difficult as the business becomes better defended, even to the point of the Crown sending in a few soldiers to make sure that it gets its saddles and shoe horns. Alternately, the PCs could be hired to protect the venture from said thieves guild.
We’re Going Shopping! - Ye Olde Medieval Department Store, Baldric and Frog’s keeps a large amount of goods on hand at their store, which has since expanded into a very large warehouse complete with magical protections against thieves and such. The PCs can browse racks off pole arms, be fitted for armor, get their leathe goods personalized, their metal goods etched, and the like. While magic items are likely to be out of the question to be in stock, the duo certainly knows how to get them, and they have them and use them themselves. The PCs get to go shopping, complete with busty sales wenches to help them pick out everything from common clothing to exotic weapons like nunchaku, katars, bolos, and other things strange and unique.