Set in Halifax’s iconic Piece Hall, an exciting new independent shop opened its doors for the first time last weekend. Owned and managed by Ross Denby, it’s a treasure trove of comic books and related merchandise. With the Covid-19 pandemic having had a devastating effect on UK high streets, we wanted to speak to the owner of this superb little venture to learn more about what they’re offering and help spread the word that Pages N Pixels is open for business! Here’s what owner, Ross Denby had to say:
Hi Ross, could you tell us what inspired you to open Pages N Pixels?
It’s a little cliché, but I always loved comic books and video games growing up. My dad wouldn’t treat me too often, he’s a Yorkshireman too! But he was big into Marvel himself, so he’d usually be more willing to get me something comic-based if I asked for it.
I found joy in reading stories like Spider-Man, X-Men and Batman plus playing classic games like Sonic; then growing older, loved titles like FinalFantasy and Metal Gear Solid (just celebrating 34 years since the original NES game). These and many more stayed with me through the years. The stories, creators and the best part for me, the wonderful characters always stand out as special in my life. When I had an opportunity to start something like this in the heart of Halifax, it felt like a dream come true. I had to go for it.
Why did you choose to open in Piece Hall?
It’s such a special place in Halifax, Yorkshire and in the UK overall. It just felt the perfect place to be for a number of reasons, especially its rich history and stunning architecture. It’s even referred to as the Pages N Pixels “Stark Tower” over on the PnP website, being such a spectacular building to look at!
We’re going to be a comic book shop that gives back to its community with events and activities, which we started with at our soft launch. The Piece Hall is the ideal place to do those types of activities. We’ve already had one event and have a lot more is to come. From the response so far, The Piece Hall is 100% the perfect place to experience them with us at PnP.
What sort of products can shoppers expect to find at Pages n Pixels?
Oh, we’re actually asking shoppers to tell us exactly what they want in our ongoing survey.
I love so many amazing characters and stories, but that doesn’t mean others my age, younger or older feel the same way. This is their comic book shop to enjoy!
There’s so much to enjoy and we don’t want to be a “bestsellers” only shop either. We want to embrace what Halifax and beyond wants to see inside.
But whatever the area people love whether it’s DC, BOOM!, Dark Horse or Manga and some cool indie publishers, we’ll have a range of comic books, graphic novels and collectables.
The latter ranging from fun figures to top-quality statues that are numbered and limited. Plus, signed artwork and prints alongside pretty much everyone’s favourites, Funko’s and other fun merchandise. With the classic in-shop experience and convenience of being able to order online to collect or have delivered. That’s not including the planned children and young adult events either, which will be coming after the crowdfunder is done! But if it’s in the world of comics, video games and pop culture, we’re all over it.
You recently held a launch event. How did it go?
Beyond our wildest expectations! The guys at Sentinel Squad UK came to support us and we had a truly epic soft-launch with Star Wars characters and a preview of the shop.
I was being Loki and the host for the day too… Although it was considerably warm to be wearing PVC all the time! But since the guys in the Wookie suits kept going, I couldn’t really complain.
Truly though, the community was outstanding and loved it. We got some amazing pictures plus our shop was very positively received, even with limited stock which I’m now adding to as the weeks of the crowdfunder go by.
The best part though was the guys raising almost £1000 for The Snappy Trust children’s charity over the weekend. So not only did we all have a great time, that event really will make a difference to some children who need educational support.
You’re running a crowdfunding campaign for your business. Could you tell us a little more about that?
Of course, we want the shop to be created for and by our community. The survey tells us what people are wanting to see and the Crowdfunder campaign allows us to take the business beyond being just a shop. We’ll be delivering more events along with learning sessions too.
The target is £7000 so we can set up a space in our shop for education sessions and other fun events plus any other initial costs that come with it.
We want to inspire the next generation of creators and developers to learn from artists and creators in the world of character and story design alongside video game development and design.
The majority of the funds after the amazing rewards are fulfilled, will go towards setup and getting classes going, so young people can come and develop skills in character design workshops, programming sessions and other activities people request. As a person who loves great music in film and games, I’d like us to do some sessions in that area too if possible.
The best bit is though, the rewards make it well worth investing in alone. Since any value put into the crowdfunder a person gets that back again in stock from our shop!
So, you’re helping us be something really special for our community, and also getting something collectable, some graphic novels or even some signed artwork in return!
There are some awesome rewards, some even giving long term discounts to look at here. We’re simply asking people to take a look, choose a reward and be our hero!
The past year or so has been incredibly difficult for independent shops. Do you think things will get better after “Freedom Day” or will people still need encouragement to “shop local”?
I’m part owner of another shop with my wife Natalie. Our shop is called Just Gaia, so I do know just how difficult it has been. Especially when it was very easy, if not the only option in some cases, to go to large supermarkets and shop online with big companies, rather than shopping small.
But I do also think that lockdown time has made people realise the importance of small businesses. The joy in peoples faces to visit their local shops and see the owner again is a great feeling to have, on both sides.
A lot of this is going to fall on changing habits, but we all did it during the lockdown very quickly. I don’t see why we can’t do it again and really get behind the independent & small businesses now the restrictions are being lifted.
On encouragement though, there can never be too much of it! Why else would big companies continue to run expensive adverts?
While it’s down to individual habits, I do think there should always be encouragement and support of local community businesses.
What are your hopes for Pages n Pixels?
Honestly, right now I hope people are happy to see a comic book shop in the heart of Halifax and would like to get involved with us and support our plans.
I can’t wait to see how we do getting some events going should the crowdfunder continue to go well. It’s growing daily but it’s all about lots of people chipping in a little, that is how it will succeed so even a small amount is very welcome!
Once we get to 100% going, I’d love to fulfil the feedback on the survey and make sure the shop is what people have asked for and get ready for a fun end to the year.
After that, I’d very much love to see something special in The Piece Hall courtyard that is similar to a comic con style event. I think it would go down amazingly well so that’s the big dream for the future, but it may take a few years to get to!
Finally, one we ask everyone – If you had one day to spend in Yorkshire doing whatever you wanted to do, how would you spend it?
What a question, I mean there’s so much beauty everywhere you turn, which makes it so hard to pick a specific place. It’s more the company for me personally, so I’d love to be somewhere with my wife, two children and our little cockapoo out on a beautiful day in the hills just exploring and having quality time together.
We’re very lucky to be able to do that so easily around here, I have a few friends from South of the Yorkshire border, who are always shocked how green it is!
I’d love to go and appreciate that with the people most special to me… And maybe bring a copy of the Umbrella Academy with me for some reading while we’re out!