President Obama and his daughters visited an independent bookstore on Saturday to participate in "Small Business Saturday."


Obama is urging Americans to shop at neighborhood stores as an alternative to big Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales by national chains. He also dispatched top White House aides to do holiday shopping at local small businesses on Saturday.

Obama has made a tradition of marking Small Business Saturday by visiting a non-franchise bookstore with Sasha and Malia. Last year, the president and his two daughters visited Kramerbooks & Afterwards Café in Dupont Circle. 

This year, the trio visited One More Page Books in Arlington, Va., a short trip across the river from Washington, D.C. They stayed in the bookstore for just over half an hour, according to a White House pool report, and immediately returned to the White House. 

Despite a lack of browsing, the president bought 15 children's books during the stop. The White House reported the purchases will be given as gifts to family this year for Christmas. Obama explained that he prepared ahead, apparently consulting a Christmas shopping list on his BlackBerry.

"Preparation," the president told shop owner Eileen McGervey, according to the report. "That's how I shop."

The federal government is offering stores free Small Business Saturday marketing materials and promoting the event on social and paid media in a partnership with American Express.

"From the mom-and-pop storefront shops that anchor Main Street to the high-tech startups that keep America on the cutting edge, small businesses are the backbone of our economy and the cornerstones of our nation’s promise," Obama said in a statement Friday. "Through events such as Small Business Saturday, we keep our local economies strong and help maintain an American economy that can compete and win in the 21st century."

Top administration officials will also be heading to local stores in an effort to highlight the promotion. According to ABC News, Valerie Jarrett plans stops at an art gallery and bookstore in Hyde Park, the Chicago neighborhood of the White House senior adviser and the Obamas.

Small Business Administration administrator Karen Mills is planning to shop for blueberry jam at a Farmers Market in her hometown of Brunswick, Maine, and then will head to Roslindale, Massachusetts, for an event with Boston Mayor Tom Menino.

"It’s great to find the perfect gift from a small business," Mills said in a blog post on the White House website. "Often, when you carry it to the counter, you can see the business owner’s eyes light up. They tell a story about how that gift was made. Or where it came from. Or how it’s a one-of-a-kind. And the gift immediately becomes even more meaningful and special. Moments like that are what makes the holidays magical."

And White House press secretary Jay Carney also tweeted a message encouraging shoppers to visit small businesses. 

--This report was originally published at 11:01 a.m. and last updated at 2:17 p.m.