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Slow And Sure
by [?]

“YOU’D better take the whole case. These goods will sell as fast as they can be measured off.”

The young man to whom this was said by the polite and active partner in a certain jobbing house in Philadelphia, shook his head and replied firmly–

“No, Mr. Johnson. Three pieces are enough for my sales. If they go off quickly, I can easily get more.”

“I don’t know about that, Mr. Watson,” replied the jobber. “I shall be greatly mistaken if we have a case of these goods left by the end of a week. Every one who looks at them, buys. Miller bought two whole cases this morning. In the original packages, we sell them at a half cent per yard lower than by the piece.”

“If they are gone, I can buy something else,” said the cautious purchaser.

“Then you won’t let me sell you a case?”

“No, sir.”

“You buy too cautiously,” said Johnson.

“Do you think so?”

“I know so. The fact is, I can sell some of your neighbors as much in an hour as I can sell you in a week. We jobbers would starve if there were no more active men in the trade than you are, friend Watson.”

Watson smiled in a quiet, self-satisfied way as he replied–

“The number of wholesale dealers might be diminished; but failures among them would be of less frequent occurrence. Slow and sure, is my motto.”

“Slow and sure don’t make much headway in these times. Enterprise is the word. A man has to be swift-footed to keep up with the general movement.”

“I don’t expect to get rich in a day,” said Watson.

“You’ll hardly be disappointed in your expectation,” remarked Johnson, a little sarcastically. His customer did not notice the feeling his tones expressed, but went on to select a piece or two of goods, here and there, from various packages, as the styles happened to suit him.

“Five per cent. off for cash, I suppose,” said Watson, after completing his purchase.

“Oh, certainly,” replied the dealer. “Do you wish to cash the bill?”

“Yes; I wish to do a cash business as far as I can. It is rather slow work at first; but it is safest, and sure to come out right in the end.”

“You’re behind the times, Watson,” said Johnson, shaking his head. “Tell me–who can do the most profitable business, a man with a capital of five thousand dollars, or a man with twenty thousand?”

“The latter, of course.”

“Very well. Don’t you understand that credit is capital?”

“It isn’t cash capital.”

“What is the difference, pray, between the profit on ten thousand dollars’ worth of goods purchased on time or purchased for cash?”

“Just five hundred dollars,” said Watson.

“How do you make that out?” The jobber did not see the meaning of his customer.

“You discount five per cent. for cash, don’t you?” replied Watson, smiling.

“True. But, if you don’t happen to have the ten thousand dollars cash, at the time you wish to make a purchase, don’t you see what an advantage credit gives you? Estimate the profit at twenty per cent. on a cash purchase, and your credit enables you to make fifteen per cent. where you would have made nothing.”

“All very good theory,” said Watson. “It looks beautiful on paper. Thousands have figured themselves out rich in this way, but, alas! discovered themselves poor in the end. If all would work just right–if the thousands of dollars of goods bought on credit would invariably sell at good profit and in time to meet the purchase notes, then your credit business would be first rate. But, my little observation tells me that this isn’t always the case–that your large credit men are forever on the street, money hunting, instead of in their stores looking after their business. Instead of getting discounts that add to their profits, they are constantly suffering discounts of the other kind; and, too often, these, and the accumulating stock of unsaleable goods–the consequence of credit temptations in purchasing–reduce the fifteen per cent. you speak of down to ten, and even five per cent. A large business makes large store-expenses; and these eat away a serious amount of small profits on large sales. Better sell twenty thousand dollars’ worth of goods at twenty per cent. profit, than eighty thousand at five per cent. You can do it with less labor, less anxiety, and at less cost for rent and clerk hire. At least, Mr. Johnson, this is my mode of reasoning.”