I made it. I've paid off Recette's debt. The ridiculous escalating payments reached 500,000 pix, but I was able to sell enough items to make. All told, Recette had to pay back 820,000 pix. That sounds like a lot, but I'm not sure exactly how much a single pix is. A ham sandwich costs about 3,800, so it might be that 1 pix = 0.01$ On the other hand, a vending machine costs 35,000 pix, so it might be that 1 pix = 0.10$. Thus, Recette owed between 8,200 and 82,000$. Let's call it 45 grand (though that means she was selling 16$ ham sandwiches, which is absolutely criminal).
It wasn't even really that close. I had 600,000 with 3 days to spare. The reason for this is that I forgot my controller when I started playing last night, so I wound up defying my intention and skipping most of the dungeon crawling. It's just not as comfortable. That said, I did get to the bottom of the third dungeon.
In it, I met my rival, who was as contemptuous as always (though frankly, I don't even mind her attitude that much, because whenever she comes into the store, I can overcharge her outrageously). I also found a mysterious girl in the dungeon, who, improbably, claimed to have gotten into it by accident. I eventually learn her name is Nagi, and I'm sure she'll be an adventurer.
At the bottom of the dungeon, I met another girl, who looked a lot like Nagi (and later turned out to be her sister). She was Tielle, the elf, and she proceeded to attack me for basically no reason. I was forced to beat the shit out of her. After it was over, a chest mysteriously appeared containing miraculous elven medicine. Surprisingly, Tear does not get upset at Recette for immediately using the priceless artifact.
Another person likely to be an adventurer is Arma. I don't really know what her deal is, but she talks like a robot, and Recette had to explain to her the concept of money. There's no way that could possibly go wrong.
Charme's destitute friend from the bar turned out to be another adventurer, I found him hanging out near the orphanage in town and learned his name was Elan. He later gave me his guild card. I haven't got a chance to play as him yet, but he looks pretty cool. He's a monk.
I was able to pay off the debt and get all this socializing done because I had the good fortune to get a "decreased cost of precious metals" and an "increased cost of precious metals" event back to back near the beginning of week 4. So, with a couple of days turnover, I was able to make a 400% profit on a 100,000 pix investment.
Looking out for and exploiting those opportunities is, of course, the core of the game, but I have a feeling that this sort of thing usually takes at least a couple more loops. Oh, well, I'm going to go ahead and take credit anyway. As they say, luck is the residue of good design.
After the end credits, we learn that Recette (naturally) has not been keeping proper business records. So, of course, Tear volunteers to stay and help run the shop. The friends remain together. Aww.
This opens up New Game+ and Survival mode (which I will be looking at later) and also Endless mode, which apparently will have more dungeons and unique items. My next goal is to clear out the bonus dungeons, recruit all the available adventurers (you can get a "true adventurer card" which unlocks them in new game+ from the beginning).
I'm looking forward to it. I feel like I could easily play this game for days on end.