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Woof! St. John’s closes illegal hair salon…that turns out to be a Hudson & Rex set

Woof! St. John’s closes illegal hair salon…that turns out to be a Hudson & Rex set

Zach Goudie/CBC

A television show about a dog detective recently managed to fool a St. John’s resident, and even a city inspector.

The city said Friday that it received a complaint on Aug. 10 from a resident of Gower Street in the city center about what appeared to be an illegal hair salon — Curl Up & Dye, according to the sign in the window — located in a neighboring home.

After an inspector investigated, the city sent a letter to the homeowners telling them they had to apply to the city for proper certification or risk fines and legal action.

But Curl Up & Dye doesn’t actually exist – the painted “storefront” is actually part of a set for the television show CityTV Hudson and Rexwho films in and around St. John’s.

Homeowners Anne Pickard-Vaandering and Julian Vaandering find the whole situation very funny.

“We just laughed. It was clearly a mistake, an honest mistake,” Julian Vaandering said Friday.

On Monday, the couple was surprised to find a letter from the city stating that an inspector “has revealed that it appears Curl Up & Dye Beauty Salon is operating a portion of the building without permits and without an occupancy permit.”

The letter instructed the couple to fill out a business application, complete with a floor plan of the occupied space. Failure to comply, the city wrote, meant potential fines, legal action and a possible lien on the property.

Pickard-Vaandering said the couple immediately contacted the city to clear up the misunderstanding.

The couple loves the painted Curl Up & Dye sign and even posted a poll on Facebook asking if people would keep the sign up for a while after filming ended.

“Overwhelmingly, people said, ‘Yeah, keep it, this is hilarious, it’s a good thing for the neighborhood.’ That in itself was enough to make so many people laugh. We thought it was such a shout-out,” Pickard-Vaandering said.

The house was originally a beauty salon years ago, called the Elegant Beauty Salon. Pickard-Vaandering said other salons filled the space before that, dating back to the 1940s, but since the couple took over, it’s simply been their home.

“It seemed legitimate”

The city of St. John’s declined to provide an interview, but a statement said the inspector assigned to the complaint visited the property and “determined through his assessment that it was likely that an unlicensed business was operating there.”

The city said inspection officers use a “variety of tools” when investigating complaints before taking action.

“In this situation it appeared legitimate and justified. The window sign appears genuine and there is an Open/Closed sign in the door window and there was nothing at the location that (indicated) this business was a setup for filming,” the city said.

“Besides, the name ‘Curl Up and Dye’ is a legitimate business in other provinces.”

Zach Goudie/CBC

The city has withdrawn the complaint, but said that if the Vaanderings want to keep their sign, the city must review the sign to ensure it meets the city’s heritage guidelines.

According to the Vaanderings, the city has been very sporting throughout the whole ordeal and they hope that the council and the inspector can laugh about it as much as they did.

“We are so happy that so many people had such a good laugh about it,” said Pickard-Vaandering.

“There were a few negative comments about the city, but we take it all with a grain of salt because the laughs that this has all generated far outweigh any negative comments that any one person might have made about the city. To the credit of the city, we have to say that they did answer us.”

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