40% Back Door to Another World / Chapter 1: In Dire Straits

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Chapter 1: In Dire Straits

09:00 AM

Jie Street

"Damnit!" Jiang Nan sighed as he saw another person going out of his store without buying anything. He hadn't been able to sell anything for several days already, and he might have to close down his shop if this continued.

Am I missing something? Jiang Nan asked himself for the seventeenth or eighteenth time as he stood up from behind the small counter, looking over the several shelves of groceries, drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic), snacks, newspapers, magazines and books. Behind him was a shelf built into the wall that was stocked with cigarettes and over-the-counter medicines.

The goods upon the shelves weren't damaged, stacked neatly upon one another. The lights were a warm amber, and the air-conditioning was working fine. If everything was alright, then why was nobody buying anything from him? Jiang Nan cursed Google, who told him that making money from opening a convenience store was one of the most common origins of income.


Another person entered through the sliding glass doors and a small doorbell announced her presence. Jiang Nan had spent about a hundred dollars installing that gadget, which the salesman in charge of the renovation had enthusiastically introduced to him, but now it seemed like a sarcastic reminder of how badly his business was doing.

The female customer looked around and went up to the counter. Jiang Nan's eyes lit up - was it possible that he was getting his first customer since the opening of his shop? However, it soon dimmed once he saw that she was holding nothing but her salmon handbag.

"Hey, do you have any electronic locks? You know, the one that you can install on doors?" She asked, gesturing unrealistically with her hands.

Jiang Nan felt a headache coming on.

"No, miss, we're a convenience store, so we don't stock high-tech items like that." He attempted to explain.

However, with the unreasonableness of a woman, she began to curse and swear at him.

"I walked over one kilometre to come to your store, but you're telling me you don't stock what I want? What horrible service!" She harrumphed as she slowly walked out of the store. "I should have known, what with the hundreds of one-star reviews about your store."


Hundreds of one-star reviews?

Jiang Nan immediately took out his smartphone and began to search on Google.

7/11 Store on Jie Street

Average Reviews: 1 Star

Number of Reviewers: 1,026


Jiang Nan could count the number of people who had entered his store on two hands, so where did the few thousand reviewers come from? He clicked on the site to see more.

Mr Lü: They didn't have anything I wanted!

1/5 Stars

Mrs Hong: They didn't have anything I wanted!

1/5 Stars

Mr Lan: They didn't have anything I wanted!

1/5 Stars

Jiang Nan was infuriated. This was obviously balloting! He used two fingers to scroll down, but all he saw were identical comments going: They didn't have anything I wanted! Although Jiang Nan knew that this was the vicious handiwork of someone, the customers would usually never bother to check the content of the comments. From a glance, it seemed as if this convenience store was perhaps one of the worst places to go.

Jiang Nan though about it. There were many people opening up convenience stores nowadays, so perhaps this was the work of a competitor? He opened up Google Maps and looked for convenience stores around him.

Laundromat, nope.

No.14 Taoxi Restaurant, nope. Oh, it did seem to have many people commenting favourably about it though, so he made a mental note to check it out in the future.

Amazing Fate Pet Store, again no.

Soon, Jiang Nan found that on Yun Street, which was a block away, there was another store, but this was not from 7/11, but from MASS instead. MASS was an enormous supermarket chain that was from the USA, and not only were they extremely commercialised, with big posters put all over the train stations and sidewalks, but they were also well-known for having a diverse range of products.

Unlike ordinary American brands, whose stock was mainly to the tastes of the Westerners, the Chinese branches of MASS took meticulous care to include an arsenal of traditionally-Chinese goods that was normally only found in Chinese brands such as duck tongue and pig liver. Their prices were reasonable, their name was widespread, and they were diverse as well. Coupled with the American service which was leagues ahead of the Chinese, there was no reason to not do well.

This normally wouldn't concern Jiang Nan, but recently MASS Supermarkets had opened up a new separate chain under their brand, which was MASS Dollar Marts - another name for convenience stores. Although the American higher-ups likely wouldn't attempt to sabotage a small newly-opened convenience store, these Dollar Marts were outsourced - and he wouldn't put it past a local store owner to do so.

He went on to check Google's ratings of the nearby Dollar Mart and was not surprised.

Mr Lü: They had everything I wanted!

5/5 Stars

Mrs Hong: They had everything I wanted!

5/5 Stars

Mr Lan: They had everything I wanted!

5/5 Stars

Jiang Nan now knew the cause for his business doing badly. However, knowing the problem and having a solution to the problem was entirely different. How could he bring the reputation of his store back up when nobody would even come to him?

FrostWarlock FrostWarlock

Yes, I know that China banned Google and that most Chinese use Baidu, but this is for people who want more westernised brands. Also, all "dollars" and "money" is in USD, not RMB.

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