Workshops aren't as bad as people say, honestly. They may have been nerfed, but they're still viable as long as you game the system.I see, thank you. So this is the real purpose of shops now, not to make money but to farm renown . I would love to be able to say that this is enough to make me want to reinstall the game, but given that my main gripe with the game is related to the combat and they don't seem to even want to acknowledge that there is something wrong with that, that probably won't happen for a while...
It used to be that you could just make bookoo bucks by buying a brewery at Vostrum, for example. But now you make OK bucks unless you buy + change-up + sell all the breweries in the immediate area around Vostrum so there's less competition. Also it depends on the market: my consistent #1 money-makers 1.5.9 have been wool weaveries at Lycaron and Odokh since they appear to be lacking in general and sheep are cheap AF.
Similarly, a pottery shop at Phycaon works ok and same with a silversmith at Onira. Oil Press at Zeonica is good and - assuming you get replace the winery at Zeonica - you can make good money with a winery at Poros.
But - yes - you can totally get a bunch of gold, then grab workshops, then chill at a settlement with your wife on fast-forward while you leave the game to go make lunch IRL and come back a while later for a bunch of farmed denars + renown + maybe a kid or two.