First lady steps out, quietly does some shopping at Target
September 30th, 2011
11:00 AM ET
7 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. AlaskaPalin

    Great for America. Class act by the Cashier. Simple acts like these reminds us that we are indeed 'the land of the free and home of the brave'.

    September 30, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  2. Chris

    First this is not newsworthy. Secondly, she should be allowed to go do some shopping and get out. For that matter, so should the president. No one else has a job chaining them to their desk. I dont care how much you may hate the POTUS or his wife. If they want to go bowling, or see a movie, or hit Target, fine by me. I just do not want them shopping at Wal-Mart, I hate that place.

    September 30, 2011 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  3. Scott

    What a complete waste of time. This woman has no class and poorly represents our Country. I cannot believe all this "loving" comments just because she went shopping. No wonder her looser husband got voted in. Soon he will be voted out.

    September 30, 2011 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  4. Chris

    And by the way, any one who thinks this was just a publicity stunt, you clearly are not married to a woman. My wife cant go 5 days without needing to shop at Target.

    September 30, 2011 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  5. reciprocity

    at the end of the it still eats away at a lot of americans that the white house has a BLACK FAMILY. it eats at them, they won't admit it, but they'll come here and pick at everything they do, God forbid they take a vacation or enjoy the perks of being in the white house, same ish everyone other first family had done mind you, the RACIST folks will lose their mind blaming unemployment, the debt, housing crisis on him, even when their argument has no basis. Danm, I mean get over it folks, a black man is YOUR president. It's not that bad. you'll live. Jesus.

    September 30, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  6. Padraig

    Look at me, I am just as common as you. Now, let me jet off to Spain with first class accomodations with 50 of my friends and charge it against the taxpayers.

    September 30, 2011 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  7. CindySanFrancisco

    To all you Haters – this is not a campaign stunt, she has done this several times before. Get use to it haters as the Obamas will be here until 2016.

    September 30, 2011 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  8. Susan

    What utter BS. This "shopping trip" is nothing but a cynical ploy to make the Obama's seem sympathetic to the little people. Anyone who believes this PR stunt is a fool. If she truly cares about saving money, why not stop all the vacations at government expense? Or is it that she just cares about her own money, but not about the tax dollars of those little people who actually do shop at Target. Mooch-elle Obama, the Madame Deficit of modern America...and the new poster child for liberal condescenion and hypocrissy.

    September 30, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  9. Binky

    Wow. Rome is burning and Mrs. Nero goes shopping. Now THAT is NEWS!

    September 30, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  10. Sandalorn

    Who paid for the Gas???? Did they have to stop regular citizens from shopping???

    Just putting down some of the conservative talking points to laugh at.

    September 30, 2011 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  11. Tim

    It is funny to see all the post here trying to blame the housing/foreclosure on the Dems. You need to actually research the topic. It is to be blamed on everyone. It was bi-partisan legislation that removed the barrier between commercial and investment sides of the banks. You know that whole less regulation is better mantra. The problem came when the human trait of greed kicked in all sides. People wanting more house than they could afford because everything was about "flipping" a house- buy low and sell high.

    September 30, 2011 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  12. Larry L

    I've seen the negative comments about this human interest story. Is there anything too innocent for right-wingers to hate? Did you write hate mail when Bachman and perry were going down on those corney dogs at the Iowa State Fair? America needs to get back on issues rather than allowing hatred and bigotry to destroy democracy. Step away from Fox News... the more you listen the less you know.

    September 30, 2011 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  13. el rob o

    you're all saps. this is staged. like she's really going to go shopping, am i missing something? yet you saps are falling all over yourself as if you believe this isn't for show. Besides, i didn't know they had a target at martha's vineyard. if she is shopping, she's probably stocking up for the next tax payer funded trip.

    $500 says this comment won't be posted!

    September 30, 2011 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  14. cj

    First off, if it was a quiet trip, why is it being reported on CNN? Also, the first lady has to shop at Target because she over spent on her 1st class trips to Europe on the taxes payers dime. Give me a break!

    September 30, 2011 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  15. Darth Vadik, CA

    "Liberal at a place like Target....must be a setup, yes yes yes, lets see, she invited the cameras, did some shopping at target while holding her nose and then went home and laid herself down on a waterbed filled with tears of little children" – Breitbart

    Of course Breitbart did not say that, but he was thinking about publishing something very similar...more details to be announced...

    September 30, 2011 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  16. Marie MD

    @bassman – the quitter was a half term governor of the least populated state. She hs had a lot of face and body work but if she really ran a marathon and nobody knew it was probably because somebody spotted her getting out of her limo a couple of blocks from ghe finish line!
    Mrs. Obama has more class and, yes, trailer trash like the Wasilla hillbillies will nevr come close to her as a PR in if integrity. Just look at Sasha and Mali a. They are incredible girls. The other kardashian sister, heck, the whole hick family would have already trashed the WH!

    September 30, 2011 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    AECSRet wrote:
    ...We faught for them and saved their country a few times. The only war they ever won was the French Revolution, bacause it was French fighting French;...
    Obviously, you do not know how the Americans turned the tide and won their Revolutionary War.

    September 30, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  18. Eli

    So, Moochelle makes a run to anti-union Target and buys Lysol (which environmentalists have been telling us for forty years damages the ozone layer) and the leftists on this page act like she has cured cancer. I'm sure the White House was completely out of Lysol so she needed to make a run to Target. Grow-up, tools. This is what is called a swing state photo-up. Those of us who live in or near DC know that she could have easily gone to the much closer stores in Southeast DC, where the community is practically 100% African-American. It's telling that so many people responding to this article are so crazy in love with the Barack Hussein and Moochelle, when the overwhelming number of people in this country (including independents who supported him in 2008) believe that he is doing a poor job.

    By the way, is Moochelle proud of her country these days?

    September 30, 2011 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  19. ohsnap

    I have read numerous times and actually heard her on one of the talk shows say that she manages to 'sneak out' of the WH without the press getting wind of it. She takes as few of the Secret Service as she can. She actually delights in giving the press the slip! Good for her.

    September 30, 2011 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  20. Tree

    DAVE.........WOW, the ignoratn left with their blinders on are out in full force proclaiming how much they love this woman.
    What a joke. This woman has been put on the back burner for the past 2 years because she can't control her spending and

    YOU sound like a fool.

    September 30, 2011 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  21. Infidel

    I weep for the future. I'm shocked at the number of people who sincerely believe that any First Lady would be out shopping on her own. This was staged to show how Mrs. Obama is one of the people. It's not unlike how the entire image of Obama as a leader was staged. His voters went for the rock star image versus a person with real accomplishments and now we are all suffering for it. Idiocracy exists in America.

    Who is John Galt?

    September 30, 2011 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  22. czar

    Like one of us??????? An AP reporter just happens to be hanging around Target??? She buys Lysol ???? Are we to believe the White House doesn't have cleaning supplies???

    September 30, 2011 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  23. Henry Miller

    After January 2013, I expect Michelle will be able to do all the shopping she wants to do. 🙂

    September 30, 2011 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  24. Henry Miller

    @Katherine: When did this happen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i wanna no

    Please.. the word is "know."

    September 30, 2011 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  25. Rudy NYC

    Let's say we compare 50 years of first ladies. We have Mrs. Kennedy, Mrs. Carter, Mrs. Clinton and Mrs. Obama compared to Mrs. Nixon, Mrs. Reagan, Mrs. Bush, and Mrs. Bush. I would say that the Democrats win the beauty and brains contest pretty easily.

    September 30, 2011 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
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