Barbershop? No, this is a film production studio | Chrome Artistic Barbering rebrands itself

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When is a barbershop not a barbershop? Easy: when the barbershop in question reinvents itself as a film production studio.

Meet Alicia Hirter, the owner of Chrome Artistic Barbering in St. Catharines, Ont. The cruel lockdowns imposed by the Wuhan virus mean that Alicia and her ilk have had to cease and desist cutting hair. But as weeks of these restrictions turned into months, Alicia got antsy and wanted to get back to work — but in a legal fashion. And it looks like she’s come up with a brilliant plan to do so.

Namely, Chrome reimagined itself shortly after the Christmastime break. It is no longer a barbershop — it is a film production company, and Alicia is now putting together a documentary entitled A Bit off the Top. (Which apparently has nothing to do with the French Revolution…)

So it is, Alicia notes, that Chrome is no longer booking haircut appointments; rather, it is offering auditions. And, like any good film production service, a haircut is offered as part of that audition. After all, who doesn’t want to look their best when one is putting together a portfolio?

Says Alicia: “We have followed the safety plan outlined [by] the Ontario Film Commission and [are] complying with our local bylaws and honouring exceptions.”

Better yet, after recently conversing with a bylaw officer with the City of St. Catharines, Alicia says the officer agreed that she is operating by the book (or, at the very least, has discovered a valid loophole allowing her to operate).

Alas, Mishelle Brown, a provincial licensing officer with Niagara Region, apparently has her doubts. She visited Chrome last week and insinuated that this barbershop-cum-film studio doesn’t qualify for an exemption to the rules regarding hair salons. And Mishelle said she would return (no doubt with her ticket book in hand). However, at time of writing, she had not made good on that threat. We did reach out to Mishelle to get her side of the story, but she declined to comment.

In the meantime, we wish Alicia all the best as she gets back to work. And full disclosure: I paid for a haircut — er, I mean, an audition — and Alicia did a spectacular job. (My apologies go out to my local barber shop in Richmond Hill, For Three Bucks You’re Laughing & So Is Everyone Else…)

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  • By David Menzies

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