President Barack Obama tried to draw attention to independently owned businesses on the Saturday after the Thanksgiving holiday, a day that is increasingly being marketed as one for deal-hungry consumers to remember to patronize small businesses while doing their holiday shopping.
He bought several bags of books — 17 titles in all — during a stop at Politics and Prose, a popular Washington bookstore now owned by a former Washington Post reporter and his wife, also a former Post reporter who later worked for Hillary Rodham Clinton at the White House and State Department.
In recent years, the Saturday after Thanksgiving has been advertised as “Small Business Saturday.” It’s designed to drive foot traffic to independent, mom-and-pop-type stores in between the frenzy of Black Friday sales at mass retailers and the Cyber Monday deals available online.
Obama browsed the bookstore’s racks with his daughters, Malia and Sasha. He held one shopper’s baby and chatted with bestselling crime novelist David Baldacci. While paying at the cash register, another patron encouraged Obama to close the U.S. facility in Cuba where suspected terrorists are detained.
“Hope you can close Guantanamo,” the patron said.
“We’re working on it,” Obama replied, then jokingly added to the nearby crowd of shoppers: “Any other issues?”
Obama also joked, “Hope it works,” when he handed his credit card to the cashier. That appeared to be a reference to an incident where a restaurant declined his credit card while he dined out in New York City in late September.
Obama bought a mix of titles apparently chosen to satisfy readers young and old. The White House declined to reveal how much he paid.
Among the books in the president’s shopping bags for mature readers were:
• “Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China” by New Yorker writer Evan Osnos.
• “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” by surgeon Atul Gawande.
• “All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr.
For younger readers, Obama’s purchases included:
• Three titles in the “Redwall” series by Brian Jacques.
• Two titles in the Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park.
• “A Barnyard Collection: Click, Clack, Moo and More” by Doreen Cronin.
Obama and his daughters also shopped at Politics and Prose on the Saturday after Thanksgiving last year.