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. Molly

    Why is this newsworthy? Hmm... let's think about it... maybe to make the President and his wife look more intune with the real American people... down to earth... It just seems like a story to bump their approval rating and appears that everyone is buying into it. Political figures hardly do anything without a alterior motive. I know it may just seem like a simple shopping trip, but it probably was more than that. You can tell it worked by just reading everyone's comments praising them and saying how wonderful they are. Not that there is anything wrong with that but there are WAY more important things going on in the world than the First Lady's shopping trip.

    September 30, 2011 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  2. Grumble Jones

    Oh give me a break! This is just a blatant PR stunt (at taxpayer expense) to improve Obama's sagging image and plummeting approval ratings by proving they're just one of us common folk.

    September 30, 2011 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  3. Laura

    Well, the AP did their job in convincing the liberals that she's one of them. Ask yourself this question....why would someone from the AP, take a photo of the first lady, if the WH did not want to make it known her where abouts for "security reasons?" Mmmhmmm.....whatever.

    September 30, 2011 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  4. Favrefan4ever

    Non believer – At least show a little respect for the office of the President. Calling people names makes you look ignorant!

    September 30, 2011 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  5. Joe

    Really? No secret service, no limo? I would have thought the only suckers would have been the media buying into this. Not taking away from the good that she has done but this is soooooooo staged.

    September 30, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  6. Joe

    She has more staffers then the last 10 first ladies did all together.. That came out yesterday. This is called spin and CNN is always there to help a Dem.. What a joke.. Normally she would take AF1 on these kind of trips.. She is a fat diva

    September 30, 2011 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  7. Lynne

    Karen - Your right, Bush didn't say tighten your belts because he was the one that spent Billions and Billions on two unfunded wars, and didn't add it to the budget so it wouldn't look like he added so freaking much to the debt..... that is what got us into the position where we have to tighten our belts...So who drank the Kool-Aid????????

    September 30, 2011 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  8. Alex

    OMG. This is such an OBVIOUS PR stunt to make her look like "one of the regular folk" and the majority of you idiots fell for it. Her husband is desperate to do anything to keep his job and use his wife to get some sympathy votes. Are you all that stupid??? I shop at Target because I HAVE to. The First Lady shops there, because she wants to, but wants you to THINK she needs to.

    September 30, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  9. fiskenmann

    Why didn't she act responsible and put Americans back to work by doing her shopping?

    September 30, 2011 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  10. Alex

    No one recognized her (other than the cashier), because...c'mon...let's just get it out there, shall we? They ALL look the same. And, you know who I mean by "they." Just sayin'.

    September 30, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  11. Woman In California

    DMS WELL SPOKEN! Maybe just maybe they're not to brainwashed to understand your comment.

    September 30, 2011 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  12. Lynne

    Karen - "and have been thrown out of our homes because we can no longer afford them" ===== if you recall the housing bubble burst in the bad loans and the people buying more house than they could afford all happened under GWBush's watch....KOOL-AID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    President Obama didn't make you buy buy buy....You did. Take some responsibility for your actions. Yes, life suck, sometimes beyond the telling of it. Mine does. But I don't blame the President..I didn't blame Bush personally for my personal woes like it was some evil plot he set out to do against me. Did I like his politics – hell no! Did I dislike him personally - didn't know him personally, so I couldn't answer that one. Grow up and stop drinking Kool-Aid

    September 30, 2011 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  13. Chris

    She's the best! Go Michelle!

    September 30, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  14. dinak

    She wasn't THAT much incognito, or the media would never have known she went. This is all about propaganda, so we will know how down to earth Michelle really is. Give me a break. Some poll must have shown that people think she spends too much and wears too expensive clothing, so they set up this farce to portray her as some kind of middle-class regular person. This was also a security nightmare, and unnecessarily endangering her. What morons.

    September 30, 2011 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  15. Woman In California

    The bracelets were RENTED so STFU about them.

    It seems a lot of people are angry she went shopping (even though they do have their own money and they were BOTH employed) BEFORE her husband became president. I can understand the women commenting but the men? You guys need to go get some woman and quit being jealous because you DON'T have one.

    September 30, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  16. TeddyN

    Just a reminder to the idiot that complained about her and her crowd going shopping and how much it cost when they go out and how much better it will be when they are gone. She is not the only first lady to ever go shopping. At least The Obama Family doesn't take trips every other month to a ranch in Texas costing the millions you say it cost to go shopping. go back to the censored news at Fox communist news network

    September 30, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  17. russinmaine

    nonbeliever, much in agreement as I look at the swooning retards on this page!

    September 30, 2011 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  18. russinmaine

    Question???? Which one of her eyes is real and which one is the prosthetic????

    September 30, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  19. Woman In California

    @ Root and stem

    Ms. Obama behaves like a pasha diva. She and hub will do anything to stay in the White House for decades to come. Several high ranking Dems are already floating the concept of suspending next years elections.

    You're a bold faced liar.

    September 30, 2011 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  20. Katie

    The Associated Press just happened to be at Target when she decided to go shopping. Right. Can anyone say photo opt!!!!

    September 30, 2011 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  21. Wade in Texas

    Where is the media and the rest of you idiots when our first lady spends millions of taxpayers dollars on a vacation to Spain or when she and her family can't be bothered to fly on the same plane to martha's vineyard with the president for their most recent summer vacation? This trip to Target is nothing more than a cheap and shameless photo op to make the first lady appear to be "one of the people". Enjoy what little time you have left living in the lap of luxury.

    September 30, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  22. russinmaine

    What body and fender shop does the airbrushing of the eyebrows??

    September 30, 2011 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  23. thomsiss

    I think Mrs. Obama is a beautiful woman. I just love her. She has inspired so many women and the world in so many way She's a real class act.

    September 30, 2011 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  24. Crystal

    I love that Michelle shops at Target, like most moms 🙂

    September 30, 2011 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  25. me

    I like her. don't see what she sees in her husband, but like so many times – great women hook up with losers.

    September 30, 2011 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
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