The president and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, went on a shopping run to a bookstore just a few blocks from the White House.
Obama said he popped by the store to mark "Small Business Saturday" and he wanted to support a small business.
In a counterpoint to Black Friday and corresponding special deals at large retailers, the retail industry is encouraging shoppers to patronize mom-and-pop businesses on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
The Obamas left the store 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."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.