'50 Shades of Grey' adult product line has Target in a bind

Whether a new line of products at Target is appropriate for display is up for debate – one with many shades of grey.
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Whether a new line of products at Target is appropriate for display is up for debate – one with many shades of grey.

The Minneapolis-based retail giant is attracting some critical attention for a line of products tied to the soon-to-be-released film version of the wildly popular erotic romance novel "50 Shades of Grey."

Target has defended its decision to stock a "limited assortment" of 50 Shades merchandise – including (but not limited to) massage candles, lubricants and blindfolds – after a picture went viral of one Target store apparently placing the products next to children's toothbrushes, as reported by Consumerist.

"Our stores are carrying a limited assortment of the merchandise," a Target spokesman told Entertainment Weekly. "It’s worth noting that it is not exclusive to Target and we directed stores to place the display on a back cap (which means the back of an aisle, not the main aisle facing part) in the adult health area of the store."

The film starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson releases next Friday and is expected to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars. Based on the book by English writer E.L. James, it's about a relationship between a college senior and a wealthy entrepreneur.

The book earned headlines over its graphic descriptions of bondage and sado-masochism, and it sold more than 100 million copies worldwide following its release in 2011.

CNN Money notes Target is just one of many companies that are jumping on the 50 Shades merchandising bandwagon, which it says is hardly surprising considering the brisk business the film is expected to do at the box office.

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