Posted On: 9 Jun 2018

Mystical & Magical are one of the community of great independent retailers that have their shop at The Piece Hall. We interviewed John, joint owner of Mystical & Magical, who told us more about his business. 

How would you describe Mystical & Magical?

It’s a little difficult to describe because we are so eclectic! We started the shop as an extension of other new age shops we’d seen and liked. The brand of Mystical & Magical is very supportive of fairly traded, ethically sourced products and as best we can we look for suppliers and manufacturers that are supporting the local population and the people manufacturing the products. Our stock is from all over the world – Guatemala, Peru, Bali – and we know that the income from this is going back to the people in those communities.

The other part of the business is around products that have a connection to what Mystical & Magical stands for. So we sell Harry Potter and Game of Thrones memorabilia which does really well!

We’re also very affordable and sell great gifts that are different to what you’d find on the high street. We understand that affordability is important in this economy and people want to get value for money, therefore we have great competitive prices throughout our extensive product range.

Can you tell me a little more about the background of Mystical & Magical?

We started the business about 13 years ago as a bit of fun and an interesting thing to do. Myself and my partner both had full time jobs at the time but we were interested in the rise of online shopping. So we started selling gothic-type products that we felt there was a gap in the market for, which went really well and after a couple of years we decided to focus more on the business and started selling on Amazon also. In March last year I was made redundant from my job which led to a conversation about whether we focused on growing the business or if I looked for another job. Someone mentioned The Piece Hall re-opening to us as we’d been vaguely considering opening a shop, but being from Ilkley we’d never heard of it before! We came along on re-opening day in August last year and was just blown away by the phenomenal building and how many people were here. When we left The Piece Hall that day we said “That’s definitely the place we want to be”. The shops that were already open had that independent, different flavour we were looking for and the whole place had a sense of awe. That’s when we started working out the logistics of how to make it happen and we opened at the end of September.

What’s next for Mystical & Magical?

Opening a shop in The Piece Hall was a bit of a gamble for us. We saw the great publicity surrounding the re-opening, but in the back of our minds was always the fact that prior to that, we lived 15 miles away and we, and our neighbours, didn’t know The Piece Hall existed. We’d only ever been to Halifax once. But the risk has paid off! We wouldn’t change the decision we made for the world. It’s been hard work – it’s not just about running a shop, it’s about spending every waking moment thinking about the business, the customers, the stock, how to develop product lines, attending trade shows and events, making connections with people, the website and digital marketing. But there’s a huge sense of achievement with this – even if someone comes to buy something as small as a fridge magnet. We’re already looking at expanding the business and opening more shops.

What do you like most about having a shop in The Piece Hall?

The sense of community that’s here. I have never worked on the high street or in retail before but I imagine that if you’re in a shop on the high street you might not know your neighbours or get to talk to them regularly. It’s completely different here. All the shops compliment each other and work together and are a part of what will ensure The Piece Hall remains here for generations to come. If someone comes in here and they’re looking for something I’m able to talk to them about which of our neighbours might be able to help. The Piece Hall was originally built for the purpose of trade and I love that that’s what’s supporting The Piece Hall to remain vital now.

I also love the building itself and the history of it. There’s a real sense of pride in having a business here. It’s a completely independent, unique offering that you just don’t find in many other places.

What’s been your favourite moment since you’ve been open at The Piece Hall?

Most recently I loved The Sunday Mixtape event. It was just a phenomenal day – the place had a real buzz and to see everyone in the courtyard enjoying the space so much was great.

Supported by
The Piece Hall heritage regeneration project is also supported by Garfield Weston Foundation and The Wolfson Foundation.
The Piece Hall is independently managed by The Piece Hall Trust, a registered charity, number 1156948. Registered in England and Wales, number 08906735.
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