It's a cliché to say that men—or, if you want to be gender neutral, "non-shopping companions"—don't do well at malls. (For example, these "miserable men of Instagram.") And in China, nifty facilities for shopping-averse men has popped up in some malls, reports Kotaku. These "husband storage" facilities—also referred to as "husband restrooms" and "husband play areas"—act as both rest stations and meeting points for men who prefer sitting around to digging through the racks. After their lady is finished shopping, she can return to the storage room and pick up her husband, much she would a winter coat left with a coat check. Kotaku reports:
Called "laogong jicun chu" in Chinese (老公寄存处), which literally means "husband cloakroom," the rest stations are for husbands who are either knackered from shopping or for those who would rather spend their time doing something else.
According to Baike.com, the facilities offer a range of activities and services to "meet the needs of male customers," such as smoking, internet access, drinking, snacks, television and "beautiful attendants." But they vary in fanciness depending on the mall. Some "just have benches for the men to sit and think," says Kotaku. Some resemble train station waiting rooms; others are set up like small cafes. Some,
While shopping malls in the West with children daycare facilities are hailed as entrepreneurial, China's husband-catering version, Time writes, adds to the evidence that that country "is the world's leader in innovation." However, the innovation may mainly be that China has a term for this service. NPR reported on the phenomenon of "men at malls" back in 2006 and found at least one store that catered to men by offering TVs showing sports, warm cookies, cappuccinos and reportedly quite comfortable chairs.
More from Smithsonian.com: