Secret Shopper: Michelle Obama goes bargain hunting and only the cashier recognises her
Published 30/09/2011 | 12:39
She might be the First Lady with a team of assistants and personal shoppers at her disposal, but Michelle Obama preferred to pop to the local discount store in Washington yesterday and pick up some bargains for herself.
Dressed casually in a Nike baseball cap, floral shirt and sweat pants, she pushed her own trolly around, packed her own not-very-environmentally-friendly plastic bags, and was only recognised when she got to the cash til by the check out assistant, it is reported.
The White House refused to provide details about the First Lady’s purchases but her Communications Director Kristina Schake admitted: “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.” The Target store is a 15 minute drive from The White House.
In the 2008 Presidential campaign Michelle Obama proudly admitted she shopped at Target, an American discount that sells clothing and homeware, and it’s regularly held up as an example of how she is just a regular mom.
The manager of the Alexandria Target branch admitted that the First Lady went unnoticed by other shoppers: "People did not approach her, she was very incognito," Maria Panagopulof said. "We didn't realise what was happening until she had almost left. The cashier recognised her, but she was very unassuming."
Panagopulof said the store had 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 said that secret service had been in before, but they too remained undercover for the trip. "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!'"
Michelle Obama had previously told Oprah Winfey that casual shopping trips were one of the things she missed since becoming First Lady.
"I think one of the greatest sacrifices for people like us -- who like being with people — is that it's the bubble," Obama told Winfrey. "I can't go to Target and walk around. I guess I could but it would mess up everyone else's shopping experience."