First lady steps out, quietly does some shopping at Target
September 30th, 2011
11:00 AM ET
3 years ago

First lady steps out, quietly does some shopping at Target

Washington (CNN) - She has the White House staff at her disposal, but that didn't stop first lady Michelle Obama from making a Target run in a Virginia suburb of Washington Thursday.

Dressed casually in a gray Nike hat, loose floral blouse, black pants and red flats, the first lady was seen pushing a cart and carrying several bags from the mega-retailer at a Target in Alexandria, Virginia. The store is about a 15-minute drive from the White House. A photographer from The Associated Press snapped a photograph of Obama exiting the store.

White House officials declined to provide any details of Thursday's outing, saying to protect her privacy they don't release information about the first lady's personal activities.

They did, however, say trips like these are not uncommon.

"It is not uncommon for the First Lady to slip out to run an errand, eat at a local restaurant or otherwise enjoy the city outside the White House gates," Kristina Schake, Michelle Obama's communications director, said in a statement.

In an interview with CNN, the manager of the Target where Obama shopped said the first lady went unrecognized while she was in the store.

"People did not approach her, she was very incognito," Maria Panagopulof said. "We didn't realize truly what was happening until she had almost left. The cashier recognized her, but she was very unassuming."

Panagopulof said the store received no advance of the first lady's trip.

"We did not have advance notice; it was as big a surprise to us as it was to everyone else," she said.

She continued, "In hindsight, there was a sweep, but it was not obvious to us beforehand. When she left we thought 'Oh, that's what that was!'"

In May, Michelle Obama told Oprah Winfey that casual shopping trips were one of the things she missed from her life before the White House.

"I think one of the greatest sacrifices for people like us - who like being with people - is that it's the bubble," Obama said. "We talked about it. I can't go to Target and walk around. I guess I could but it would mess up everyone else's shopping experience."

–CNN's Alex Mooney and Leslie Bentz contributed to this report.


Filed under: Michelle Obama
soundoff (299 Responses)
  1. keeping it real 100%

    I have never seen a first lady like Mitchelle, she is the only first lady that I have seen go out into public to do normal things. She raises her children like normal people do even though she could have the white house staff do the things that need to be done, but she does not. She is a insperation in the way she does not let her level in life change her and shes not afraid to get a little dirty every now and then. Rich weathy people tend to be come seperated and disalusioned and privielaged from normal life. She is showing weathy status driven people that its not discraceful or lower your status, just to be normal and live life the way its supose to be lived with real happieness and relasionships. Thanks Michelle you are an insperation.

    September 30, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  2. Sean

    Thank God the First Lady is able to find a place to shop in this downright mean country that is guided by fear.

    September 30, 2011 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  3. hytop

    I think she see the writing on the wall and is getting in practise for 2012 when her and her husband are out of work.

    September 30, 2011 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  4. truthfl1

    Laura Bush told Oprah that she went shopping at Target while in the White House.

    CNN plays this up like it's a first.

    It's just another Obama photo-op, with an AP photographer planted in advance

    Agree with other poster, Obama's have some spinning to do, trying to play down the Obama's hanging out with the wealthy elites and the taxpayer money they spend on vacations, with an entourage including the mother-in-law.

    OBAMA FIDDLES, WHILE ROME BURNS.

    September 30, 2011 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  5. YOU Decide 2012: A bankrupt socialist welfare country or a thriving capitalist super power

    Why is she shopping at Target? Do they have a special "big butt" women's dept.???
    Oops, did I say that out loud?

    September 30, 2011 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  6. Ms K.

    @ bubba...your name says it all....read the article again...sorry can you read????

    September 30, 2011 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  7. Karen1229

    I'm shocked! I actually had to read a ton of comments before I saw the first negative one. The negative comments are so funny to me: "It was staged. It was a PR stunt. She HAS to shop at Target because she has overspent on so many occasions in the past. We're suckers for believing this story." Blah, blah, blah. I like the first family. They seem a lot like me – except for that whole "President" thing. Just sorry I wasn't there to see her myself. I hope she enjoyed her time at Target. I enjoyed my trip there about an hour ago!

    September 30, 2011 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  8. truthfl1

    Laura Bush told Oprah she shopped at Target when she was in the White House.
    Michelle Obama can't come up with something more original?

    Why is CNN so biased that you get comments waiting moderation if there's anything less than praise for Obama?.

    September 30, 2011 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  9. Wow

    There are clueless people who think Target is a French company. Really? Wikipedia is only a click away...

    September 30, 2011 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  10. Dirty Sanchez

    She probably stopped by McDonalds and ate 3 quarter pounders with chees and 4 large fries.

    September 30, 2011 04:54 pm at 4:54 pm |
  11. Charlie in Maine

    I get why people of a certain political bent may not like the excellent job her husband is doing as President but anyone saying anything disrepectful of this wonderful lady is just a first class SOB and can just go hike the AT with themselves.

    September 30, 2011 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  12. Really

    Who cares? I shop target all the time. This is not a news story. If they really wanted to protect her privacy it wouldn't have made the news. Just trying to prop up the over-spending husband who is dead set on destroying America.

    September 30, 2011 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  13. IsNot

    I'll add to Sebastian Kent's post that the dresses are often either loaned or donated by designers to get their names dropped.

    That is how it works for a lot of famous women. You think movie stars actually BUY all that stuff? BWAHAHAHA! Don't you people watch Rachel Zoe? What she does is exactly what Ms. Obama's stylist does–calls designers and arranges for dresses, accessories and stuff to wear to a red carpet event and then gives it all back after (unless the designer donates/gifts the items). harry Winston hasn't sold a diamond in years, but makes a fortune in renting them out.

    September 30, 2011 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  14. Squealy

    So nice to see a majority of positive comments for a change!

    September 30, 2011 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  15. grumps

    Target is a Minneapolis, Minnesota based company. Last I knew, Minnesota was in the good old USA. I don't think it moved across the Atlantic. Check the info at Wikipedia.

    September 30, 2011 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  16. Good ForHer

    Do you want to know that a Republican-loving commentator was trying to put a spin on her visit to Target! Can you just imagine! He was saying that she was not just like one of us and that that was what she was trying to portray. Hooey on the Republicans as well as the Libertarians who follow in lock step with them! They just can't wait to attack a Democrat no matter how innocuous the event may be. Just throw anything out there and quickly, seems to be their main agenda. That's sad because Mrs. Obama deserves to continue living as she has before and go where she wants when she wants without these Repugnants trying to spin it off the worse way they can. What they should be doing is trying to help fix the job situation by not being confrontational with the President and standing in the way of his fixing this important matter for the country. But they are only known to be Obstructionists, so, until they are gone and we get a Democratic Congress and President again we will only continue to see stalemate in government most unfortunately.

    September 30, 2011 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  17. AlaskaPalin

    Those with negative views do not speak for the conservatives nor teaparty. Its acts like these by First Ladies that help to remind us that as americans we have made an art out of the ordinary. We are also reminded that we will not have monarchs to rule over us.

    September 30, 2011 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  18. StormeeATL

    Hmmm, when the spin doctors on the right wing come out with their usual ridiculous attacks surrounding this, is Sarah Palin going to step up and defend Michelle Obama and tell the press to leave politicians families alone like she wants them to do with her family? Or does the "leave the family out of this" cry only reply to Republican politicians?

    September 30, 2011 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  19. Angy

    You go FIRST LADY OBAMA!!!!

    September 30, 2011 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  20. Maria

    from a ball cap to a stunning evening gown. She makes it work. This is the most versatile first lady ever. Did you see her down to earth charm in slacks and shirt on the extreme makeover building a house for the returning veterans? She is a stunning pace setter.

    September 30, 2011 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  21. JFritz

    Ruthy Toothy, you should be ashamed of yourself.

    September 30, 2011 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  22. Ken from FL

    The praise for her shopping trip that I'm reading on this site is amazing. The AP photographer "just happened" to be there. Are you kidding? This was just another stage show, to show the Obama's as now a caring couple, after all the multimillion dollar overseas vacation trips and the date nights. Will you people please get real!

    September 30, 2011 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  23. CAROLINELEW

    Michelle is a natural. Hats off to her. Yes, the cashier does need credit for doing her job and not exposing her customer to the media.

    September 30, 2011 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  24. Anonymous

    I fell in LOVE with her after I saw her on Extreme Makeover; there is something soooo sincere and genuine about her words!!!

    September 30, 2011 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
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