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. JFritz

    A truly smart, lovely lady. Hope she enjoyed her trip out of the bubble, but also hope she stays safe. Aren't we Americans lucky to have had so many great first women? Democrat and Republican alike, they've all added so much to the national scene.

    September 30, 2011 05:21 am at 5:21 am |
  2. Not fooled

    What a wonderful warm , down to earth human being. Not some snoddy rich woman. Go Michelle.

    September 30, 2011 05:38 am at 5:38 am |
  3. Johnny

    Trending? Surprise she's human and was raised like a regular American, not a Tiffanys lady. I would enjoy a Target trip too if I had security detail, staff, and onlookers 24/7

    September 30, 2011 05:50 am at 5:50 am |
  4. Marie MD

    Just watched this on Channel 11 from Baltimore. Way to go. At least Mrs. Obama knows what a upc scan is!!
    You can't say that they shop at Tiffanny's righties!

    September 30, 2011 06:20 am at 6:20 am |
  5. Shannon

    wonderful classy lady, I wish I could run into her, to tell her what a remarkable woman she is.

    September 30, 2011 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  6. cm

    Very nice story, love to Mrs Obama

    September 30, 2011 06:26 am at 6:26 am |
  7. Deep North

    Good for you Michelle.....Regular People! Stay in touch the best you can!

    September 30, 2011 06:46 am at 6:46 am |
  8. Republicans - "The Not Intended to Be Factually Accurate" Party

    I want all of you to recall how many people have called this family ELITIST.

    The 1st Lady has been shopping at Target for YEARS. Not so much of a SNOB, afterall, ehh?

    What do you bet Target tries to exploit this visit through an advertising campaign? I hope someone in the whitehouse informs them not to try. Remember that company that bragged about the President wearing their jacket on his trip to China?

    September 30, 2011 06:47 am at 6:47 am |
  9. Teragon

    Please... And secret service agents just looked how she is carrying bags?
    Because regardless of advance warning or not – they have to make sure she is secure, so there were at least several people around her.

    September 30, 2011 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  10. Thank you, Michelle!

    As a taxpayer, I appreciate Mrs. Obama going to Target incognito – it saves a ton of taxayer money when she doesn't have the Secret Circus around. And on a more personal note to Michelle – don't you just love Target? I always spend way too much there!

    September 30, 2011 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  11. Tai

    She is so down to earth! Very nice.

    September 30, 2011 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  12. Angela

    Awesome article.

    September 30, 2011 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  13. ardale

    For all of those who are critical of this event, get over it, she is clearly having a great time and doing something she likes

    September 30, 2011 07:34 am at 7:34 am |
  14. LiLa

    Amazing what passes for news stories these days. Let the First Lady shop in peace! We don't need to know what she purchased!

    September 30, 2011 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  15. mike

    this is not news. please, let these people have a few normal moments in their lives.

    September 30, 2011 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  16. roverho2

    What a classy lady!

    September 30, 2011 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  17. BEn275

    What a great lady!

    September 30, 2011 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  18. Drew

    I like that Michelle doesn't stop at "It'll mess up my life..." No, she continues to say that it might affect another person when she goes to Target. This is years ago, so she obviously cares for others and isn't too selfish like most political relatives.

    September 30, 2011 07:51 am at 7:51 am |
  19. Marrissa

    First Lady shows you can ball cap it and then go entertain internationally! Smarts and Class!

    September 30, 2011 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  20. proudmemberofglobalzero

    Love the story....my fellow employees will love it too. Yes, I was laid off but am working at Target until I can find a job close to home in my field. NO unemployment for me...yes I am a proud liberal but, have you ever tried to make ends meet on those benefits? I don't know how anyone could or would want to.

    September 30, 2011 08:17 am at 8:17 am |
  21. HollyGolightly

    Not only is she a class act, she makes me feel like one too because I shop at Target! Love her!

    September 30, 2011 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  22. JCQueipo

    Too bad Barack saw her first, I love this woman !!!!!

    September 30, 2011 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  23. The Greedy Old Pigs have lost their minds!

    Cue the teacult phony criticisms of the First Lady in 3, 2, 1 ,,,,,

    September 30, 2011 08:21 am at 8:21 am |
  24. volksmaniac

    Does she have a glass eye on the left side ? Also , does she have someone draw her eyebrows on or are they tatoos ?

    September 30, 2011 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  25. William dodge

    She's awesome

    September 30, 2011 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
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