Located in the old quarter of Taipa, the one-year-old ROOFTOP MACAO (ROOFTOP) has grown into a must-go store online. It has attracted the attention of local media and KOLs, as well as tourists from mainland China, South Korea, etc.
ROOFTOP was once a living space. Later it was rented by two boys of the 90s generation. They wished to add a touch of cosiness to it. Therefore, they planted lots of green plants on the rooftop, almost turning it into “an earthly paradise”.
Making and selling clothes: the major source of revenue
Rafaelo Hall and Justin Yeung knew what it was like to start a business even before they graduated from college. “We wanted to have our own business when we were still in college, so we decided to make and sell clothes,” they said. However, after they rented a space in the industrial building they realised that the property only generated more burdens on them. As a result, they decided to get rid of the brick-and-mortar space and moved their business back to the internet. One year later, they finally found the appropriate business space and opened ROOFTOP.
ROOFTOP is a boutique coffee shop comprised of unique and stylish homeware, furniture, accessories, cultural and creative products, and fashion. However, when asked about the business condition, the pair said that up till now, making and selling clothes has always been the major source of revenue, while revenue from boutique retailing has been quite limited. In fact, they just want to diversify their businesses with it.
Choosing coffee according to customers’ preference
The reason why they could survive with the clothes business is the quality they provide. “Customers can find our clothes are of good quality simply by touching the fabric. The fabrics we use aren’t much different from those used by big brands, and our products are more affordable,” they explained. Most boutique products in the store are imported from Japan. When they find something they really like, they will contact with Japanese brands and craftsmen via email or other online platforms to purchase their works, and later sell them in ROOFTOP. Local Macao craftsmen would sell their works in ROOFTOP, whether through rental or consignment.
Coffee is another main source of income for ROOFTOP. “Our coffee, like no other, is made of carefully-chosen and mixed coffee beans. When we found that over 80% of our customers are foreigners who prefer stronger coffee, we adjusted our flavour a little bit. This is also the flavour we’ve kept till now,” they said.
Holding cultural and art activities is no easy thing
Customers can not only have coffee at the rooftop, but also participate in a variety of cultural and art activities, such as “Music at Dusk”, “Western Calligraphy Course”, etc. However, it’s no easy thing to hold these activities. “When we invite artists, we found that their charges are higher than our expectations; but when artists want to rent our spaces, they often couldn’t afford the rental fee, either. It could be really hard to strike a balance. For example, there was once a concert held at the rooftop, and the organiser was our college friend. So we didn’t ask for a rental fee and only required every participant to buy coffee in return,” Justin said.
The unpredictable potential of the internet
Nearly 80% to 90% of ROOFTOP’s customers are foreigners, they observed. “Most South Korean tourists come to know our store thanks to the Macao Government Tourism Office, since they almost all came holding a Korean brochure with the Office’s logo on it. Mainland Chinese tourists, instead, find us mostly through social media platforms such as Dianping and Xiaohongshu, while most local customers heard of us through local KOLs,” they analysed.
Although ROOFTOP never bothered to approach any media for interview opportunities, they have received lots of interview requests after they participated in the “Taipa Village Project”. “Taipa Village will invite journalists to visit member stores from time to time. We have been told that media organisations and bloggers from Hong Kong and Shanghai would pay a visit to our store in the near future,” they explained.
On the cultural and creative business
When asked about the cultural and creative industry in Macao, they didn’t find the local market environment favourable. “Everyone thinks that the coffee business has a high margin. But how much cups of coffee we need to sell so as to cover the rent? And if you want to provide eat-in service in Macao, you’ve got to apply for another license (Beverage and Catering License), which costs around MOP600,000 and severely raises the cost,” they explained. For people who want to open cultural and creative stores, their suggestions are never follow the crowd, do your own math, and be aware of the profit and loss.
Opening hour: 11:30am-8pm (Sunday to Tuesday, Thursday); 1pm-10pm (Friday and Saturday)
Address: No. 49, Rua Correia da Silva, Macao