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. golden

    I love our First Lady....

    September 30, 2011 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  2. Larry L

    Some right-wingers found something bad to say about Michelle Obama going shopping at Target! Darn, the next thing you know this woman will be trying to reduce obesity in children, or some other act offensive to conservatives... Hate.

    September 30, 2011 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  3. V in Chicago

    Michelle – we love you!

    September 30, 2011 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  4. Dj

    This is so cool...Can you imagine how the SS disguised her..I bet she sure didn't drive up in a limo. And i bet the guy in pic behind her dressed casual was SS as well..

    September 30, 2011 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  5. Sandy

    I love Target too!

    September 30, 2011 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  6. Mike in SA

    This was nothing more than a campaign ploy by the Obamas. It's the Obama campaign machine trying to make the false statement to the Average Joe, "See, we know what it's like to be you." It so transparent only an idiot would fall for it...which is what they think you are. Give me a break.

    As a sad side note, I actually heard a major news outlet report that nobody figured out who Mrs. Obama was until she met the cashier. Really??? With a entourage of Secret Service agents and photographers NOBODY could tell it was Mrs. Washington D.C....15 minutes away from the White House. Not believable.

    September 30, 2011 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  7. ThinkAgain

    @bill: First I do like her, put no first lady is going out without 10 secret service guys around.

    Did you read the article? They did a sweep of the store before she went in. And do you know anything about the Secret Service? They know how to blend in, in part to provide for a better, more "normal" experience and also to not be too disruptive to the other shoppers.

    Amazing that this even has to be explained ...

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

    After Nov 2012, she can shop all the stores she wants to in Chicago!

    September 30, 2011 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  9. Jen

    People are all saying she's one of us. She may be first lady, but that doesn't give her the right to spend thousands of dollars EVERY Wednesday night having lavish dinner parties – like they always did in Chicago. She is not like one of us – she has thousands of $$ at her disposal. When was that last time you did? She seems nice and all, but she's not like one of us – well, at least not me and the people I know.

    September 30, 2011 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  10. Jimmy

    Listen to all the whiners "trying" to put Michele down. I love how they try to convince people of their made up lies or stretched truths about this is the first time taxpayer dollars have ever been spent on the first lady or the last. Plus I will be using "quotation marks" like they do too. when they talk about "jet-setting" or "these people" The Obama's rock and we "will" be celebrating again come 2012. Why cause America does not want anything that has shown up in the GOP. suck it!!
    Obama 2012!! make it happen.

    September 30, 2011 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  11. Sorensen

    The vulgar and stupid negative comments above must come from braindead fools.
    Michele is the brightest and classiest first lady the US has ever had. She makes even Jackie Onassis look and sound
    like a joke.

    September 30, 2011 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  12. M-AZ Independent

    Great story! Mrs. Obama is a class act; she is REAL. Everyone just remember to check the labels for MADE IN AMERICA...where ever you decide to shop!

    We need our jobs too!

    Obamas/Bidens 2012!!!

    September 30, 2011 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  13. al196112

    Photo op for O'Blunder's re-election campaign. IF the Dems even let him run. My guess is there will be a back room meeting and he'll be told: forget about it.

    September 30, 2011 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  14. Texan

    Ummm it doesnt really matter how much she spends...they have made their own $millions and have the right to spend it how ever. yes it does cost to have security but that is just part of the position. lets not forget bush was on vacation almost half of his time in office. I thought conservatives were ok with spending your own rightfully earned money on what you want.

    September 30, 2011 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  15. marty

    Never thought I'd read so much nit picking from macho men and wimpy women.
    Mrs. Obama is a terrific wife, mother and First Lady.

    September 30, 2011 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  16. Bob

    Excellent lpublic relations move by shopping at Target before next years elections. Trust me, if Obama wins she will never step foot in another Target again...

    September 30, 2011 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  17. Dean

    Alex in Wisconsin

    i'm just going to throw this out there, Michelle Obama 4 Prez.

    September 29, 2011 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
    "The greatest argument against democracy is a five minute discussion with a voter." ( or words to that effect) Winnie Churchill and "In order for a democracy to work there must be an informed electorate." T. Jefferson

    September 30, 2011 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  18. Kevin in Atlanta

    Nice to see Mrs. Obama just out enjoying her self like a normal person. The sad thing about this story is that those out there that truly hate the First Family will find something about this story to gripe about.

    First Ladies going out shopping is not new and Michelle is not the first. Yet, it's nice to see the "human" side of our politicians. They are normal people just like the rest of us.

    September 30, 2011 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  19. Jason

    This is soooo awesome!!! Great story!!! We need more real news stories like this CNN!!!!

    September 30, 2011 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  20. sf

    We support you Mrs. Obama, you're a strong First Lady...stay strong, and GOD bless you and your family. Especially our President! OBAMA 2012!!!!

    September 30, 2011 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  21. Central Park West

    I want to shop with Michelle Obama!!! It is fabulous to think that this might happen in a store near us! Who would believe me if I told you that she does this ALL the time!

    September 30, 2011 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  22. Tom

    To all you who have drank the kool-aid. This is a cheap campaign stunt. This is a woman who spent millions of taxpayer dollars vacationing in Europe with her friends and takes a separate plane than her husband to go on vacation. Get real, the Obamas are in full campaign mode.

    September 30, 2011 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  23. Zebulon Pi

    Just goes to show that the political climate is so broken in this country that the First Lady going to a Target will cause such a discordance. If we can't see eye-to-eye on a shopping trip, how on earth can we fix Social Security, or the budget, or unemployment? We should scrap both sides, and start again, you people sadden me.

    September 30, 2011 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  24. snitch

    They were normal people before they took this ridiculous job. She just want to go back to her normal life.

    September 30, 2011 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  25. Lauren

    OMG I love her SO much! That Target is right around the corner from me and I would have DIED had I bumped into Michelle while buying cereal. Probably would have been one of those hysterical fans who scream and cry. OMG I LOVE HER SO MUCH!!!

    September 30, 2011 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
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