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Beer, razors, condoms: Grocery store introduces 'man aisle'

Talk about man overboard.

In the wake of manbags, mantyhose, mandals, manks (men's tank tops), a New York – er, Manhattan – grocery store has introduced a "man aisle."

According to an article in yesterday's New York Post, Westside Market NYC's Man Isle turns searching for tortilla chips, beer, razors and condoms into a one-stop shopping experience.

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The idea came to the store's CEO George Zoitas and COO Ian Joskowitz after reading a study by ESPN and consumer research firm GfK MRI that 31 percent of men did the family grocery shopping in 2011, up from 14 percent in 1985.

Mr. Zoitas and Mr. Joskowitz admit that their Man Isle is largely for laughs (among the featured items: Chock full o' Nuts coffee) but guys appear to be into it, with various products being restocked by yesterday afternoon.

Westside Market, which is located at the corner of Broadway and 110th Street, may be billing the novelty section as the first in New York but it can not claim to be the first ever.

In May, Portland news channel KGW reported that Walmart and Target started rolling out similar dude-centric merchandising.

"The erosion of the traditional family is why you have more men doing the shopping," shopping scientist Herb Sorenson tells KGW.

In a post on The Atlantic's web site, writer Jen Doll jokingly suggests a "woman aisle" complete with pregnancy tests, candy, tea and tampons.

Of course, many would consider this sexist. And yet the man aisle seems to escape criticism, perhaps because it's generally accepted that men may not feel as comfortable in a grocery store (what year are we living in, again?).

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While merchandising by gender is the norm in clothing stores, supermarkets are considered a gender-neutral space. Don't women use barbecue sauce, too? Moreover, if men are shopping for their families, as the study suggests, shouldn't they be filling their carts with items found throughout the store like vegetables and fruits (mangoes, even!) and maybe also diapers.

But most important, if men head straight to the man aisle, they risk missing out on the most fun grocery experience of all: picking up women.

Guys, would you check out a main aisle at your grocery store?

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