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. bassman

    What is the diffenence between Republicans and Democrats. You don't see Republicans calling this a photo-op, or trashing her. If Gov. Palin had been spotted at a Target, all the comments would be only trailer park trash shop at discount stores. Secondly, Gov. Palin ran a marathon incognito while in Iowa. Did our media fawn over her? Nah, why bother humanizing Palin.

    September 30, 2011 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  2. Tracy

    Notice that she's not using recyclable bags but the plastic Target ones? Tsk, tsk , tsk Michelle.

    September 30, 2011 08:36 am at 8:36 am |
  3. Dan

    First off, Nice eyebrows. Not

    Second she must be shopping with her own money if she is in Target, cause lord knows she no problem spending millions on vacations on the taxpayers.

    September 30, 2011 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  4. John

    These awestruck comments are hilarious. yeah Michele Obama is really one of you and cares. Oh . . . she's so great she just had to run to Target. Anyway this was probably a calculation to distract from the tens of thousands of dollars of jewelry she routinely wears at events – in the middle of a recession with 10% unemployment.

    September 30, 2011 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  5. BD70

    I love Michelle Obama....she definitely is down to earth even in her bubble.

    September 30, 2011 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  6. Tired of the nonsense

    She is one very classy lady who's just like the rest of us. I love that! Being First Lady has to be annoying at times because you can't just hop in the car and run to the store whenever you want, but then, when she does, she does it with economic intelligence.

    Mrs. Obama, you rock!

    September 30, 2011 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  7. Serita

    Love her!

    September 30, 2011 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  8. Brad5013

    Now, all we gotta do is follow Calista Gingrich through Tiffany's. KaChing!

    September 30, 2011 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  9. el rob o

    How about "crazy eyes"? where's the press on michelle's eyes? let's have some balance, huh?

    September 30, 2011 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  10. JOE

    Miss Obama has got class. Such a great and down to earth human being just like her husband. Unfortunately the GOP and their racist tea bag community don't believe in great Americans like the First Lady and her husband.

    September 30, 2011 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  11. Truman Guy

    Obama=Target. Gingrich=Tiffanys Does that say it all?

    September 30, 2011 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  12. Mary

    I remember talking to a group of moms about how Target can be this little oasis, like a little vacation from all that is hectic in our days. I wonder if it is that way for the first lady as well.

    September 30, 2011 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  13. Frida

    It always feels good to do things on your own instead of asking others give an hand. I hope Michelle had her moment. Good for you and we are happy and proud of you!

    September 30, 2011 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  14. Mofo

    So how much Made in China crap did she buy?

    September 30, 2011 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  15. Big George in Big D

    Great lady you say??? Are your people blind? This "great lady" costs taxpayers millions with her huge entourage everywhere she goes. What a phoney. Just another showey "one". Can't wait till they are out!

    September 30, 2011 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  16. Jerry

    I am starting to wonder about the objectivity of the CNN folks. A large number of posters which don't kiss the NObama's butts, are usually not published. Is Michelle proud to be an American now?

    Just asking!

    September 30, 2011 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  17. Truth-Bomb Thrower

    I wonder if there are Targets in Martha's Vineyard and Marbella, Spain where "Michelle the Jet-setter" likes to go party.....while the rest of us are standing in the unemployment line and wondering how we are going to pay our mortgage payment and feed our kids. I guess she had to pick some things up before she leaves on another taxpayer-paid vacation that she takes every month. I think these people are actually more phony than the Clintons.....I didn't think that was even possible.

    September 30, 2011 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  18. John

    Realy she should be at walmart!

    September 30, 2011 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  19. Max

    You looked great Mrs O. Keep up the good work continuing to be as normal as you can. I enjoyed this story very much. As a person easily recognied, you pulled this off very well, not wanting the attention like another lady we all know.

    Wish I could shop with you at Target! Yep, I really do!!

    September 30, 2011 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  20. Jackie in Atlanta

    How wonderful! We all need to take a moment for ourselves - doing those things we enjoy!! Way to go First Lady!!! Leading by example!!!

    September 30, 2011 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  21. royce

    She should know better. This company's political contributions are akin to those of the Koch brothers and definitely not in the favor of her husband's re-election hopes. Gotta shop somewhere but I won't set foot in a Target and she shouldn't either.

    September 30, 2011 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  22. roy

    Would a Republican First Lady do her own shopping bet not she would have to be waited on hand and foot. What a great lady to shop with ordinary shoppers.

    September 30, 2011 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  23. MASTRODAMUS

    The first lady supports China by purchasing items made there.

    September 30, 2011 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  24. callen

    Yes, she's just Mrs. Everywoman just like the rest of us. Well, other than the extra 40+ days of vacations she's taken in the last year costing taxpayers millions of dollars, including the trip to Martha's Vineyard last month when she took separate travel arrangements (which includes secret service and everything that goes with it) instead of waiting FOUR HOURS for her husband. And I think it's nice that we can also pay for her mother to enjoy some vacation time too.

    September 30, 2011 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  25. Allen

    Wow! You mean she's NOT on vacation?

    September 30, 2011 09:29 am at 9:29 am |
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