Inside track: five places Macau people go to buy something special
From a psychedelic candy store to hipster boutiques, we visit shops the locals know but most visitors have yet to discover
Buddy Candy Store: This psychedelic sweet shop is tucked away in the corner of an alley just a stone's throw from the Ruins of St Paul's, alongside some hipster fashion boutiques. Buddy Candy Store sells candies in all shapes, sizes and colours, including its bestselling giant gummy bears imported from the US, weighing up to 2.2kg.
What usually strikes first-time visitors is the ethereal colourful floating glass balloons that run through the ceiling of the entire shop. All the goodies are imported from abroad, with most of the toy candies coming from Japan, while the extensive range of beautifully packaged candies, from lollies to large-scale towering pieces of art, are imported from Europe, the US and Southeast Asia.
Expect to find plenty of cartoon characters, from Disney to Hello Kitty. Both locals and expats come here to shop for candies, for a lolly-on-the-go, or to order special packages for children's birthday parties and events. This summer, Buddy Candy Store is organising children's parties in the shop's space, accommodating up to 20 youngsters. Whether shopping for gifts or picking up some candy, you're spoiled for choice with sweets that range from five patacas to 500 patacas.
Avenida de Demetrio Cinatti, Macau, tel: +853 2835 8222. Open: 10.30am-6.30pm
Mercearia Portuguesa: This Portuguese "corner shop" opened in 2011 and has a carefully and lovingly curated inventory of eclectic, beautiful artisanal products. Everything from the century-old traditional Claus Porto soaps with gorgeous vintage print packaging to artisanal rugs made in Portugal to the "Pinhais" sardines - a family run business in Portugal that practises sustainable fishing - a product you can't find outside of Portugal because of the small-scale operation.
Then there are the homemade quince marmalades and assorted jams packed in a jar straight from Portugal. You'll also find hand-embroidered small linen handkerchiefs - a traditional Portuguese linen art - for gifts or to display.
Portuguese sweets and assorted boxes of chocolates with beautiful typography and packaging are for sale alongside vintage wooden toys, beautiful hand-painted tile art the Portuguese like to display by the window, vintage stationery from pencils to notebooks and traditional pencils with calendars printed on them. This corner shop is a little enclave housed in Albergue 1601, where local artists' workshops and intimate exhibitions take place and is a veritable little slice of Portugal in Macau.
Albergue 1601, Walk of Saint Lazarus Church (Calcado da Igreja de Sao Lazaro) No 8, Macau, tel: +853 6654 6403 Open: Mon-Fri 1pm-9pm; Sat and Sun noon-9pm
Sartor Lab: Sartor Lab is Macau's answer to made to measure. The minimalist boutique with airy, stark interiors and two full racks of trouser suits gives off an air of an upscale New York store. Local duo Victor Choi and Kade Chou opened their atelier in January 2015 with a ready-to-wear collection. Chou hails from a family of Macau tailors and studied at New York's Fashion Institute of Technology, while London-raised Choi has a marketing degree. Creative lead Jay Li joined them recently after designing for Li & Fung USA as well as Thom Browne New York.
The ready-to-wear suits range from 4,000 patacas, while shirts cost anything from 480 patacas to 1,800 patacas depending on fabric and cut. Pore over the swatches of fabric; the team uses only the finest textiles, from Zegna, Loro Piana, Scabal, Thomas Mason among others. Sartor Lab has taken made to measure in Macau up a notch, introducing a travelling style consultant and tailor. They will visit New York this October before travelling to different cities in China. While taking their bespoke tailoring services on the road, they will continue to be fully committed to walk-in clients - suits typically take about three to four weeks to make, and up to five weeks during peak seasons such as Lunar New Year. Handmade cufflinks are also available starting from 380 patacas.
Rua de Bras da Rosa 26, Macau, tel: +853 6557 2640. Open: 12pm-8pm, closed on public holidays
Prism Creative Macau: You won't want to miss this store — it's a diamond in the rough, located on a street of old shops and local eateries with a floor-to-ceiling window display of local designer wares. Apart from offering a random, albeit interesting, selection of art, jewellery and crafts, it conducts workshops for the community and encourages plenty of do-it-yourself type of creativity. Its craft workshops range from making leather bags to jewellery and candles. Artists' digital artworks are always on commission; on the wall hangs an A1-size canvas of digital art by a local Macau artist known by his pseudonym "Big Ear Cow". This is a great place to pick up some souvenirs and gifts, including greeting cards in beautiful typography and illustrations, and handmade jewellery made by designers from Macau and Hong Kong. There's also a shelf of Chinese design books as well as books featuring the artworks of "Big Ear Cow" and magazines for design/art buffs in search of some inspiration. Other products range from leather stationery, and hand-carved candles to hand-bound books and embroidery.
37 R/C A, Rua das Estalagens, Macau, tel: +853 6371 5152. Open: Tues-Sun 2.30pm-8pm
En Masse: This boutique brings to Macau a curated inventory of bespoke and eclectic items from accessories to stationery and household items such as "Tiny Tree" handmade terrariums with funny mise-en-scène. Products range from cushion covers to pugs on mugs; accessories from analogue wooden watches to women's costume jewellery. The shop's vibe shows a very organic and creative selection of products. Here, you'll also find fun household items from Thai design brand Qualy and bags and accessories made from cork by Thai label Mazmoizelle. Or maybe even pick up some designer wear for your dog as they stock the British pet label Devon & Drew.
Rua Nova à Guia 110, Macau, tel: +853 6268 2677. Open: 1pm-9pm