Harry Winston Jewelers was not a landmark building but it sure was famous enough. One just had to hail a cab outside the hotel, tell the driver, "Harry Winston," and he would know where to go.
The African-American driver looked very trippy. After Li Du had gotten in, the driver said, "If you wanna, you can smoke in the car, sing in car or drink in the car."
Li Du was puzzled, "Huh?"
From the rearview mirror, the African-American driver spotted Godzilla and Big Quinn sitting in the backseat. He added, "Please don't get mad at me if I say anything wrong and have your men to beat me up!"
Li Du laughed and said, "You're mistaken. That wouldn't happen. My men are very mild -tempered. Both of them are nice guys."
The African-American driver grinned. "If I had a body like theirs, I don't think my temper would be good."
Li Du said, "Relax, we are all nice people. You as well."
The African-American driver laughed light-heartedly. "Yeah, of course. We're all nice people, all God's obedient lambs. Oh ya, what business do you have at Harry Winston's?"
The cab drove up the street, which was filled with cars and pedestrians, so it couldn't go very fast. There were many traffic lights, so the cab had to stop often. This was why the cab drivers in Las Vegas were very good at chatting with passengers.
Hans had reminded Li Du that the public security in Sin City was not very good. Recalling that, Li Du said vaguely, "I'm thinking of buying something."
The cab driver said, "To buy jewelry? Then you're going to the right place. Have you heard that Harry Winston is going to close? If that's the case, the jewelry will probably go for cheap."
Surprised, Li Du asked, "Harry Winston's closing? How could that be?!"
Although the jewelry shop he was going to was not the most luxurious shop in the world, it was well-known and well-regarded in the jewelry trade. It was unlikely to be shutting down.
The African-American driver shrugged. "You didn't know? Ha, of course people are still not really aware of it. These d*mn investors are way too sneaky. Right now they are busy shifting their assets . . ."
Li Du asked, "How do you know this?"
The African-American driver just shrugged and said, "Yeah yeah yeah, how do I know? Because I know everything. I'm the know-it-all super driver NJ."
This answer was no better than not having an answer.
Li Du took out his mobile phone to search for news on Harry Winston. He knew nothing much about luxury goods and now that he was entering this trade, he would need to find out more.
Yes, he had plans to enter the luxury goods trade. His experience searching for opals made him realize that it was a pity to only use the little bug for storage auctions. There were other jobs more suitable for it.
This included going deep into the ground, going into the ocean and going into the mountains to look for gems or treasures.
There was a lot of news on Harry Winston online, so he filtered the search to include the term "closing." There was still a lot of news but most of it was from click bait sites and did not seem legitimate.
After searching for a while, a news item caught Li Du's attention.
Two years ago, the largest mining company in the world, BHP Billiton, entered into partnership with Harry Winston by selling their mining business worth 500 million dollars to the jewelry company.
The first to be sold was a diamond mine named Ekati. It was located in the northwest Canada, near the Arctic Circle, where both the geographical and climatic environments were very unforgiving.
The Ekati diamond mine was the first diamond mine in Canada. Harry Winston hoped that by owning this mineral source, coupled with Canadian expertise in diamond processing and marketing skills, it could produce more top-grade diamonds and expand the brand's market share.
This was a good plan. Harry Winston's operations had always included both diamond production and retail. If they also had a diamond mine, then they could make even more money.
In the end, based on the bits and pieces of news he had gathered, the Ekati mine did not seem to be doing well. Harry Winston had been misled by BHP Billiton!
Before acquiring the Ekati mine, Harry Winston had put forward the idea of "Arctic Ice," and had set up a new sub-brand to operate and promote diamonds mined from the Arctic region.
But this concept had not yet been introduced in the market. Harry Winston's explanation was that the global economic downturn had resulted in reduced consumer purchasing power. They were waiting for an opportune time to push the series of products out into the market.
But some reports said the real reason was that the Ekati diamond mine was nearly exhausted and could not produce quality diamonds. Hence, Harry Winston had no way of launching that series of products.
Harry Winston had put immense pressure on their finances having invested 500 million dollars that ended up going down the drain. Unlike the US government, Harry Winston did not have the backing of a strong national bank.
Now that the luxury industry was in a slump, many luxury goods companies appeared glorious on the outside, but were in fact relying heavily on bank loans.
Half of Harry Winston's 500 million dollar investment came from loans. Given the failure of their investment, many internal issues had started to crop up.
Loans were dependent on operations, and it would be fine when the operation of funds was smooth. Once the operation was blocked, there could be trouble, leading to the global capital being paralyzed.
Upon seeing this piece of news, Li Du started to hesitate. If Harry Winston was in such a bad state, they would probably not buy those fire opals from him.
He had brought quite a number of opals with him this time - at least five million dollars worth.
For Harry Winston, this amount of money would usually be nothing. The company had once spent 20 million dollars for the 101-carat "Winston Legacy." But that was business as usual. Was it still usual now?
While he was hesitating, the car arrived at the Las Vegas Strip the main road named after the city.
Cosmopolitan Shopping Mall, Hard Rock Hotel and Casino, Bellagio and other famous buildings appeared before Li Du. There were even more tourists there, forming endless streams of pedestrians and vehicles.
Harry Winston's shop was located here. Its exterior was in the shape of an inverted heart. The silvery gleaming building had lines that had been cut by an axe, making it look like a perfectly cut diamond.
A good-looking blonde white man came forward to open the cab's door for Li Du. He smiled as he bowed. "Welcome to Harry Winston - the most beautiful diamonds, the most beautiful jewelry, the most beautiful life."
Upon seeing poker-faced Godzilla and Big Quinn exit from the cab, the white guy's smile froze. Thereafter, he looked at Li Du more respectfully.
This easterner, who brought two such strong bodyguards, must be some bigwig. It would be best to remain humble, the attractive white man thought to himself.
Li Du had no idea what he was thinking, but just nodded, smiling. "Thank you. Your shop's not closing soon I hope?"
The white guy hurriedly said, "We're open until midnight. You can arrange your time at will."
Li Du nodded again and sauntered into the jewelry shop.