Softsrve, an ice cream and desserts shop, bid farewell to its fans as it announced the closing down of their Plaza Arkadia outlet in Desa Park City. Their last day of operations will be December 13, 2020.
In a Facebook post, they revealed how they weren’t ready to adapt to the changes during the first MCO. This caused zero sales for the first few weeks since they didn’t have a delivery service.
However, they still tried adjusting to the new norm by introducing their HardHard ice cream, which they tirelessly worked on to create.
That burden was carried by just a 2-person team who took on sourcing for packaging and ingredients, R&D, making and churning the ice cream, and marketing this new category.
While things got better for them, the second MCO came in October and they found themselves no longer able to sustain their business and catch up with the pre-pandemic rent in Plaza Arkadia.
“For our final 2 months rental plus the cost of demolishing the shop to its original condition for handover, we calculated the need to sell 1,650 pints of ice cream,” they shared in the post.
In order to do that, they’ve requested the help of fans to support their final months to pay off rental and return the outlet.
Even as a casual consumer, it sucks to watch many local businesses fall prey to the pandemic and close down after years of success, so fans have to be devastated.
Started By 4 Friends Who Wanted To Bring The Soft Serve Trend To The Local Market
Softserve was started by 4 friends, Amily Chong, Redmond Ho, Jack Liau and Terrence Tea.
In an interview with Buro 24/7, they shared that they were actually good friends in college but got separated when they left to other countries for university.
“When we got back to Malaysia and started working, we felt really bored by our day jobs. Then, Redmond and Jack went to Korea for a holiday and saw that soft serve ice cream was a pretty popular thing there,” they shared in the interview.
All 4 of them later went together on a second trip to South Korea to learn more about the soft serve market.
When they were set on pursuing a soft serve business, the team went ahead and Googled how to make ice cream, they told The Edge.
It took lots of trial and error and 9 months to perfect the flavours and get their ingredients right. Moreover, the team didn’t have any background in F&B, as the 4 of them graduated with degrees in design and e-commerce.
Luckily for them, there were barely any competitors for artisanal soft serve ice cream when they were bringing this concept into Malaysia in 2014, they shared in a past interview with Vulcan Post.
“Obviously, there are many recipes that you can find online, but the key is to tweak them to suit the local Malaysian tastes.”
“For example, Americans love very sweet ice cream, but Malaysians don’t, so we had to take that into account,” Amily shared then.
Finally, in February 2015, they launched their first store in Damansara Uptown. For the first 3 months of their opening, they were occupied with queues day by day.
“In our first year, it was a milestone when we saw a huge crowd lining up for us even before we opened up shop,” they told Vulcan Post in 2017.
Fast Forward Six Years Later Into The Pandemic
In late 2018, Softsrve was taken over by Tommy Thong and his partner, Debie, which they shared in the aforementioned Facebook post.
Softsrve was joined with their existing party supply business, Brrrloon, which they opened together in the Plaza Arkadia outlet.
During the MCO period, Tommy shared in an interview with The Edge that their revenue had fallen 99%.
They tried applying for a bank loan which was announced as part of the government’s stimulus package to aid SMEs, but ran into a problem.
“We ran the company through sole proprietorship in the first year of takeover, which was 2019, and then just registered as a Sdn Bhd in January 2020.”
“Hence, we do not have a financial track record [to apply] for the loan and financial assistance,” Tommy told The Edge.
Even the banks themselves weren’t sure of how to proceed with the situation when Tommy consulted them.
Hence, instead of relying on the banks, Tommy and Debie took it upon themselves to learn how other ice-cream stores were doing their deliveries.
They took a week to incorporate delivery into their business and finally reopened on April 11 this year, but their main customers were just close friends and regulars.
Because Tommy expected at least a 50% drop in revenue post-MCO as compared to January, he foresaw Softsrve closing down because they are unable to pay rent and electricity.
Rent in Plaza Arkadia is high, to the point that they don’t even dare to turn on their air conditioner and lights anymore because they are trying to cut costs as much as possible.
But the battle was just too tough.
A Small Goodbye Gift For Their Final Days
Though they are packing up and saying goodbye to their fans, it’s not quite the end yet.
“We plea for your support till our last day closure for the outlet in hopes of being able to pay these expenses as we are packing and saying our goodbyes to the beloved community here,” they shared in the Facebook post.
Hence, for those who wish to support this homegrown brand one last time, you can get their ice-cream delivered to your doorstep via softsrve.beepit.com if you live within a 10km radius to Plaza Arkadia.
If you live a little further, they can still deliver to you. They’ll arrange a group buy via WhatsApp to reduce delivery fees if possible.
“If you already miss us, visit us as we will still be operating until December 13. We hope to say our goodbye to you personally, to the community we have fallen in love with,” Tommy and Debie shared as they ended their post.
- You can learn more about Softsrve here, and check out their online store here.
- You can learn more about other Malaysian startups we’ve written about here.
Featured Image Credit: Tommy Thong, current proprietor of Softsrve