The president took his daughters, Malia and Sasha, along on a shopping run to a bookstore a few blocks from the White House.
He says he made the visit because it's "small business Saturday" and he wanted to support a small business.
The retail industry is encouraging shoppers to patronize mom-and-pop businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It's a counterpoint to Black Friday and the sales and special deals offered by department stores and other large retailers.
The Obamas walked out with a selection of books including "The Invention of Hugo Cabret," "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever" and "Descent into Chaos: The U.S. and the Disaster in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Central Asia."