U.S. President Barack Obama pays for purchases at Pleasant Pops, as daughters Malia and Sasha enjoy a popsicle, in Washington, Nov. 28, 2015. Today is Small Business Saturday, which was started to encourage shoppers to buy locally and from brick-and-mortar stores, and serves as a counterpoint to the traditionally busy shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday. Reuters/Mike Theiler

(Reuters) -- U.S. President Barack Obama took his teenage daughters Malia and Sasha shopping on Saturday for books and a sweet treat to promote Small Business Saturday, an annual event designed to boost holiday shopping at mom-and-pop shops.

In the tiny Upshur Street Books in northwest Washington, the casually dressed Obama and his daughters browsed for books with the help of the store manager, Anna Thorn.

The post-Thanksgiving book-browsing outing has become an annual tradition for the First Family.

On Saturday in the softly lit shop adorned with Christmas lights, excited employees mingled next to platters of colorful cupcakes. Outside, cheery store windows featured books of fairy tales and a green handwritten "Shop Local" sign. The bookstore opened last November.

The Obamas bought nine books that spanned age brackets, including three young-adult novels by Cynthia Voigt, “Purity: A Novel” by Jonathan Franzen, “Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights: A Novel” by Salman Rushdie, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck, Book 8” by Jeff Kinney, and “Dork Diaries 1: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life” by Rachel Renée Russell.

Afterward, they dropped by Pleasant Pops cafe, where the unusually warm late-November day called for ice pops.

The Obamas quizzed employees on their recommendations before ordering a cookies and cream pop for 17-year-old Malia, cranberry apple for 14-year-old Sasha, and strawberry ginger lemonade – a store favorite – for the president.

"That sounds just really fancy," Obama said, shelling out $9 for the goodies - "a bargain," he said.

"This was the highlight of my Small Business Saturday," he said, smiling.

Part of the American Thanksgiving tradition is shopping for holiday gifts, with big box stores and shopping malls offering massive sales on Black Friday.

Small Business Saturday was created in 2010 by credit card company American Express to encourage people to spend their holiday shopping dollars at small businesses.