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. sara

    Soooo like most women in America! I included. Love this first Lady and her initiatives for the good of our own country. She has stayed right here in America with her programs. Thanks Michelle for being YOU!

    September 30, 2011 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  2. Bridgette

    I just love this woman. Such class, such beauty. Wonderful role model for all women.

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

    Hateful comments from the GOP/Teabaggery-nonsense crowd in 3....wait.....wait for it....2...........1-GO!

    September 30, 2011 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  4. reeba

    So the AP photographer just 'happened' to be around ???? Perhaps a photo-op to 'connect' with the 'common' folks??? Oh give me a break ! ! ! Compared to any of the other first ladies......... she's got class........ too bad it is mostly third ! ! !!

    September 30, 2011 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  5. Concerned Citizen

    I think she is an amazing woman! I loved her idea of creating a garden in the White House, I love how she dresses simple and yet manages to have an incredible style! Like someone else said, I woldn't mind if she messed up my shopping at Target!

    September 30, 2011 09:36 am at 9:36 am |
  6. vic , nashville ,tn

    After some time real news in the media

    September 30, 2011 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  7. Tar-zsh-ay?

    Class will tell, I suppose.

    September 30, 2011 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  8. Whatever

    For Pete's sake, you'd have thought she just found a cure for cancer or something! Please explain to me how this is supposed to be inspiring? A lot of people shop at Target. Big deal.

    September 30, 2011 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  9. IVOTE

    God Bless our beautiful First LADY of the United States.

    September 30, 2011 09:46 am at 9:46 am |
  10. Gloria

    I think we have a fabulous First Lady, and the entire family make me proud to call them our country's First Family!

    Obama/Biden 2012!!

    September 30, 2011 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  11. 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 it send a bad message in a bad economy. She also has a very aggressive, activist past. They have smoother out the edges and kept her out of the spotlight on purpose. Wake up, she is a phony. She also happens to be horrible at fashion and presentation. She is not in the same league as many other first ladies when it comes to class. And to say the Obama's "connect" to the average person is just a joke. They have been ushered along this path to the White House since their days in Chicago. They have been guided and shielded.
    The whole thing is a joke being playond on us.

    The world is laughing at us because we made a mistake and half of you don't realize it yet. Germany and the EU just laughed in our face a couple days ago when Obama tried to give them advice on their debt issues.

    Get a clue people. These residents in the white house are in in WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY over their heads and they have done absolutely nothing except prolong the recession and make things worse for the future with the debt they have racked up.

    Thank God we only have one more year of this debacle.

    September 30, 2011 09:48 am at 9:48 am |
  12. Lolo

    Oh you haters just can't take it. You want her to shop at WAL-Mart with all the rednecks and uneducated people. I don't go to wal-mart because of that. At least Target has a huge variety and keeps it stores in tip top shape to intice you to shop there. Have you seen the people at wal-mart e-mails that are sent around? Eww!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! These people in the south really do go out and shop dressing like clowns.

    September 30, 2011 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  13. Lynda/Minnesota

    The wonder of Christian love quite overwhelms the soul this bright Friday morn.

    September 30, 2011 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  14. bill

    Are you people stupid. Like she just went out shopping. Its a photo op. First I do like her, put no first lady is going out without 10 secret service guys around. And a assoc press guy just happened to be there. Give me a break.

    September 30, 2011 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  15. Cat

    Got to love the First Lady, she is classy and smart.

    September 30, 2011 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  16. AECSRet

    Target is a FRENCH owned company that DOES NOT support our military in any way. They will not donate or reduce prices of articles for military organization auctions to raise money fro veterans and they do NOT allow VFWs to sell Buddy Poppies for veterans benefit on Memorial Day.

    They have kicked us off of their property.

    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; it was a WIN-WIN for the French!!!!

    I won't buy anything from Target!!!

    September 30, 2011 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  17. Independent Voters

    Wow.We got alot of haters on here..Michelle Obama is just like the ordinary american

    Love you Michelle Obama run for president

    September 30, 2011 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  18. KimH

    How many bodyguards, how many escort cars and how many Secret Service agents this little trip to Target cost....

    September 30, 2011 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  19. Tre Jankie

    @ Callen.

    George Bush and his first lady took five times as many vacation days as Obama and Michelle have at this point in the Presidency.

    Congrees takes ONE WEEK OFF for every two weeks worked.

    Your selective outrage is disgusting.

    September 30, 2011 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  20. JMR49

    Our country has been fortunate in having so many fine First lady's over the years. Ms. Obama continues to carry that legacy foward.

    Naysayers, your disrepect for this fine lady shows your true colors...

    September 30, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  21. Rambling Parry

    Love u FLOTUS

    September 30, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  22. NVa Native

    I'm sure the typical right-wing swamp creatures will try to insult Mrs. Obama – over her shopping trip – once again. Let’s face it – sadly that seems to be their only pleasure.
    But to the rational & thinking public this is a great thing.
    I wouldn't say anything nasty about a First Lady (I’m Liberal), but something as simple as this shows how the Obama’s want to stay as “real people” and not become detached from the American people. And right no and the years to come that’s exactly what and who we need and deserve.

    September 30, 2011 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  23. KimH

    I guess she simply ignores the fact that Target contributes to virulently anti-gay causes. Why let politics get in the way of your photo op?

    September 30, 2011 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  24. charlie

    Michelle is called elitist so they make sure the AP is there to get a picture of her at target to look more down to earth. Nice propaganda piece. No one could ever call the Obama's stupid. Walmart would've been more impressive. Even when going box store shopping, she needs to go to the "nicer" one.

    September 30, 2011 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  25. rapierpoint

    So she made a trip to Target. That doesn't mean that they don't shop at more up-class places for all you Obama worshippers. I'm glad she could get out, but, please, don't make this into more than it is.

    September 30, 2011 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
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