Weft! St. John’s shuts down illegal barbershop…which turns out to be a Hudson & Rex set

Anne Pickard-Vaandering and Julian Vaandering proudly show off their home on Gower Street, which served as a filming location for Hudson & Rex. (Zach Goudie/CBC)

A TV show about a detective dog recently fooled a St. John’s neighborhood – and even a city inspector.

The city said on Friday it received a complaint from a resident of Gower Street in the city center on August 10 about what appeared to be an illegal hair salon – named Curl Up & Dye, according to the sign on the front window – based in a neighboring house.

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

But Curl Up & Dye doesn’t actually exist – the painted « window » is actually part of a set for the CityTV TV show Hudson and Rexwhich spins in and around St. John’s.

Owners Anne Pickard-Vaandering and Julian Vaandering find the situation very amusing.

« We were just having a laugh. It was clearly an oversight, an honest mistake, » Vaandering said on Friday.

On Monday, the couple were surprised to find a letter from the city saying an inspector « has revealed that it appears the Curl Up & Dye beauty salon is operating part of the building without permission or a certificate of occupancy. »

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

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

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The Fake Curl Up & Dye Beauty Salon

The Curl Up & Dye beauty salon is a fictional business used during the filming of Hudson & Rex in St. John’s. The « showcase » was so convincing that it fooled a neighbor and a city inspector.

The couple love the Curl Up & Dye painted sign and even posted a poll on Facebook asking people if they should keep it on for a while after filming wraps.

« The overwhelming majority of people said, ‘Yeah, keep it up, it’s hilarious, it adds to the neighborhood. That in itself was enough to make so many people laugh. We thought that was such a cry,” Pickard-Vaandering said.

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

“It seemed legitimate”

The City of St. John’s declined to do an interview, but in a statement, the inspector handling the complaint visited the property and « through his assessment determined that it was likely that a business was operating without approval ».

The city said inspection staff use a « variety of tools » when investigating complaints before action is taken.

« In this situation it seemed legit and justified. The window sign looks real and there is an open/closed sign in the door window and there was nothing on the site that [stated] this venture was a setup for filming,” the city said.

« Also, the name ‘Curl Up and Dye’ is a legitimate business in other provinces. »

hudson and rex set st john s
Curl Up & Dye isn’t a real business, but it got a real warning from the City of St. John’s. (Zach Goudie/CBC)

The city dropped the suit, but said if the Vaanderings wanted to keep their sign, it would need to be reviewed by the city to make sure it meets city heritage guidelines.

The Vaanderings said the town has been a good sport about the whole ordeal and hope the council and inspector can laugh as much as they do.

« We’re really, really happy that so many people had a good laugh about it, » Pickard-Vaandering said.

« There have been some negative comments towards the city, but we take it all with a grain of salt, as the laughs it generated far outweigh any negativity the odd person may have had about the city. For credit of the city, they answered us.

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