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3 of the Best (or Worst) Stores to Shop in if You Have ADHD

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I’m that “weird” person whose safe place is the mall. To quote Holly Golightly, “The quietness and the proud look of it; nothing very bad could happen to you there.”

When I’m in a good mood, I go shopping. When I’m in a bad mood, I do the same thing except sometimes I spend more money. As great as that is (and sometimes isn’t), I noticed that some stores are easier to get through than others because of my attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 

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Some stores are super straightforward; the way that the store is organized is mentally accessible, and then there are others that cause me to go on multiple side quests, add more things than intended to my cart, and cause my credit card bill to go up.

While stores and malls can cause some sensory overload, they cause me to waste time that I could otherwise use doing something productive. Most days it doesn’t bother me, but sometimes it can be a little troublesome (especially if you’re running errands between meetings).

After an extensive shopping day, I’ve compiled a list of the three worst (or best depending on your outlook) stores to go to if you live with ADHD due to distractibility, weird layouts that can cause you to get a little (a lot) lost, and of course, really cool random shit that you otherwise wouldn’t find.

1. Ikea

This should be obvious. Have you ever been to an Ikea?

The Swedish retailer is the holy ground of lost hours, and sometimes days. They have literally everything you need, and what you 100% don’t need but will convince yourself you do until you get to the checkout lane and realize that you’re definitely about to overdraft your account. 

Let’s start with the pure layout of Ikea. 

Ikea has a bunch of different showrooms for every type of setup you could imagine, and they sell mostly everything in those showrooms. All the Ikea I’ve been to have two floors on top of that, where the bottom floor has all the bigger furniture pieces stored, and minor household items. Specifically, there’s this flour sifter I really want in my local Ikea. I keep forgetting to buy it because I get distracted by this one super cool table that’s white and has a top that opens up, but it’s glass/see-through! I’ll get that table one day.

Ikea is a dangerous place to go if you actually have to be somewhere on time or have a strict budgeted amount to spend. Worst-case scenario, you’ll only buy a cheap vanilla candle. The best-case scenario is you leave with a new closet organization system. Best-best scenario, you get both. 

2. HomeGoods

HomeGoods is a very dangerous place for my wallet. 

Just like Ikea, they have a wide assortment of, well, home goods (ba-dun-tss) for indoor and outdoor use! They have silk florals, cheap name-brand champagne flutes (I almost bought this Kate Spade flute set that was to die for), stuff for your fur babies, and even some questionable seasoning and spices! HomeGoods is the store I go to sniff some candles and feel like I have my life together, which I drastically don’t. 

The issue with HomeGoods is literally all of the same reasons it’s such a magical place. 

While the niche is a little stricter than Ikea, there are still too many things in aisles that are usually way too close to one another. I’ll be in one aisle looking at a cute teacup, only to see a beautiful pillow arrangement across the store (and in reality that’s only ten feet). 

When it comes to ADHD-based impulsivity, it’s easy to fall into the “nesting” rabbit hole and buy a bunch of things you don’t technically need, but would make you happy. 

If you’re looking to chase the dopamine, you can always chase it in a HomeGoods, promise. 

3. Target

Couldn’t leave Target off the list. 

I’ll one-up your Disney World with my Super Target (that is only 20 minutes away from Disney World so I really don’t have to pick but I digress).

Target is the store you go into not because you actually want to buy something, rather you just need to go on a walk and outside is a gross place where there are mosquitos and bugs. Target is a mystical land that Disney couldn’t even compete with due to the vast array of contaminants inside. 

Target is tricky, only because it has everything, of course, but also because it’s a very frustrating place for me to shop because of my impatience. If no one is in Target, it’s fine, but I find myself walking the store an extra 30 minutes (thus, putting more things in my cart that I don’t need to), all because the checkout lines look too long. It’s a very cluttered place, with a lot of different people from all walks, which means there’s a lot that grabs my attention in rapid succession. I’m honestly surprised I don’t get overwhelmed in Target because of that, but it’s probably because I always have my headphones on.

I love Target, but I acknowledge that it can be a lot for me, and not in the same fun way that HomeGoods or Ikea is a lot. 

These three stores are as fun as they are stressful. If it weren’t for my affinity for shopping, I do believe that I wouldn’t have as many positive things to say about them. While there are different things you can do to make your shopping experience less anxiety-inducing (especially if you live with sensory sensitivities), it doesn’t negate how someone may have to work up energy to even pull into the parking lot. 

Life with ADHD can be fun — why lie — but just like shopping, sometimes it can just be overwhelming, expensive, and distracting.

Getty image by LENblR

Originally published: April 27, 2022
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