Mount Vernon: One of the Last of Its Kind

Mount Vernon: One of the Last of Its Kind

Variety Store sells more than 12,000 items.

Customers look at items outside the Variety Store.

Customers look at items outside the Variety Store. Photo by Gerald A. Fill


Douglas and Deborah Bentley, the Variety Store owners.

— “Experience the Nostalgia of an Old Five and Dime Store.” This statement is inscribed on the Variety Store business card, and reflects its commitment to the old school approach to retail store customer service. The iconic Variety Store, located on Fort Hunt Road in Mount Vernon is, according to the owners, a landmark in the Washington metropolitan area. They held the store’s 30th annual sidewalk sale on Saturday, Sept. 12. Other retail stores in the immediate area that participated in the sidewalk sale were the 529 Hollin Hall Consignment Boutique, and the InItial Impressions retail store.

According to Douglas and Deborah Bentley, their Variety Store sells more than 12,000 different items. “If you cant find the item you are looking for here, then it is not likely you will find it anywhere else,” said Douglas Bentley, a resident of the area since 1961 who, along with his wife Deborah, bought the Variety Store seven years ago. They have two children, Douglas Jr., and Michal.


Deborah Bentley in the fabric section of the Variety Store.

The store was first established in 1958 and has been a magnet for local Fort Hunt and Mount Vernon area shoppers ever since. According to the Bentleys, approximately 85 percent of their customers are local, with another 15 percent coming from elsewhere in the region — City of Alexandria, elsewhere in Fairfax County, and Maryland. How do they survive in an era of big box stores with their large inventories and lower prices? Douglas Bentley answers that it is the personal touch, the friendly atmosphere, and the constant change and relevance of their inventory that keeps customers coming back.


The Variety Store is located at 7902 Fort Hunt Road. Phone is 703-765-4110 or email at

“The Variety Store is one of the last of its kind,” he said. “A Five and Dime general store, where a family can go and find whatever they need from toys, party goods, housewares, fabrics and notions, candy, crafts, Lego, school supplies, canning supplies, pet supplies, candles, greeting cards, kitchen ware, and many more items. If you can’t find it in our store, we will try and find it for you. When you walk into our store you will feel like you stepped back to 1958. The nostalgia and atmosphere of the store and the infinite variety of items takes you back to an earlier time. Deborah and I, and our friendly staff are always there to assist you with your questions. The Variety Store continues to be successful because of the support of the community, the variety of items, and the friendly personal touch we offer to our customers.”