What’s in a name?
Apparently a lot more than some people can handle.
Since I arrived in Fort Saskatchewan, I’ve chuckled at the sign of local salon Kooter Couture, which has been censured because of its name (if you didn’t know, kooter is a slang word for vagina).
The bare bones of the story are as such: a local Brazilian waxing shop owner got a business licence for the business, but after numerous complaints (including one from Elk Island Public Schools) she’s been told she can’t advertise their business name on a sign (read more on pages 10 and 11).
I’ve always enjoyed punny business names, so couldn’t help but wade into this one (some of my favourites include Life’s a Beach and Pho Shizzle).
I understand why the school board complained about the business name. They are, after all, peddlers of virtue and values that create upstanding members of society and all that good stuff. Being directly across the street from a business with a slang word for vagina in their sign probably isn’t great for optics.
But realistically, we live in a day and age where the leading Republican candidate for the President of the United States has said his opponents got “schlonged” with few repercussions, a day and age where pornography is available online 24/7 to anyone who can type a four-letter word.
Is a slang word, which isn’t even that commonly used, really such a great concern? Maybe it’s a sign of the times.
For me, the glaring hole in all of this is that the city happily issued owner Wendy Poseluzny a business licence, only to tell her she can’t advertise her business name. I asked the city’s director of planning and development, Janel Smith-Duguid, why the city would issue a business licence but not let them advertise their business name.
She said it’s not the city’s job to regulate business names. Furthermore, she said it’s not the city’s responsibility to warn business owners that their business name could be rejected for a signage permit.
I don’t want to split hairs, but this decision doesn’t make sense.
In my eyes, it’s incumbent upon the city to make sure they’re issuing business licences to businesses that actually have a chance to survive and flourish.
It’s not enough to issue a licence and say good luck.
The city needs to guide these businesses and foster their success, because they’re the ones who will ultimately reap their tax dollars.
For that reason, the city should have done its due diligence initially in issuing the business licence by telling the applicant that her business name could cause her issues down the line.
My only explanation for this is that a city employee did not even think of the offensive slang in the business name, approved it at that time, and now the city is backtracking in the face of public pressure.
Talk about bad business.
I also doubt the school board would have even complained if the city did not canvass the local neighbourhood on their thoughts about the sign. I understand it’s due diligence, but it’s too little, too late.
For a city that says it’s always looking for independent businesses, we should be doing what we can to make business owners’ lives easier, not more difficult.