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.
I do so love this woman!!! WoW!
I want to shop w Michelle Obama!
i'm just going to throw this out there, Michelle Obama 4 Prez.
First ladies are people too!
I believe that I say the First Lady at a local store as well in a similar baseball cap. The only surprise is that it has remained a secret for this long.
Great story. Also give credit to the cashier for being very professional.
Target – and Michelle are awesome
I love my trips to "Tarj" . Mrs. Obama is welcome to "mess up my shopping experience". I truly love our First Lady and would be thrilled to shop in her company.
GO MICHELLE! YOU'VE GOT SOUL!!! We luv you and family. Hold strong.
Good for you Michelle.
Michelle is so down to earth, unassuming and so supportive of our Military and causes like children's fitness & healthy eating. She is doing a great job as First Lady.
Dear Mrs. Obama,
America and the World love you, God bless you and your family and the United States of America.
This is not the first time that the First Lady has been spotted out and about in public. She is out all the time doing normal things and manages to go totally unnoticed – just like any normal person.
Sounds pretty reasonable to me...
I really do like her because she and the President do try and make it as real as they can for their girls, and I applaud them for doing that because it can not be easy!
Love, Love Love, First Lady Michelle Obama and I Love Target. This is a "feel good", positive story all around! (trying to remember if I ever saw any of the former FLOTUS' in Target).
Good for Michelle! Like her husband, she is a class act!
shes a human being...let her have some fun every now and then/
I admire greatly our first lady.. she represents what I think every female aspires to be. Educated, a classy lady & a Great mother! Keep up the outstanding job!
Good for her...I bet she loved being out doing what we all do but don't have to be hassled..Too bad she got caught by a camera snapping her picture...you would think whoever too the picture could have just walked away...
Nice to see that she s still in touch with normal people.
Good to see she's one of us :-)
I love this woman. She is glorious and great to be the First Lady of the USA. She is a great compliment to a great President, President Barack Obama. 2012 can't come quick enough.
Joseph, Port Moresby, PNG
Classy lady. Great First Lady.
unlike some politicans the Obamas seem to be more connected with the average person. Not to many would shop at Target. At least our first lady knows what things cost. She is a classy lady.