By Mary Wadland
In the heart of Del Ray, at 203 East Custis Avenue, is a genuine find. With a spacious parking lot and more than 5,000 square feet of store space, is Del Ray Variety, an enchanting throwback to the old-fashioned general store meets the old Five and Dime or Woolworth’s. You can walk in and buy a piece of penny candy and a Coke. To see a soda fountain churning out egg creams and chocolate sodas would not be out of place.
It is a one-stop shopping destination with everything from party supplies to household items. “Think about us before trudging off to Target or Michael’s,” co-owner Debra Arnett insists. She and Erik Dorn, longtime family friends, remember going to the Hollin Hall Variety Store as children, and wanted to pay homage to those memories by opening Del Ray Variety in their neighborhood.
The building at East Custis was a former community church, completely renovated except for the huge original front windows, which allow for beautiful store displays, now loaded with items for the wintertime. The holiday season is one of their busiest times, and it is no accident that they stock such nostalgic items as wrapping paper, boxes, gingerbread house kits, snowball makers and snow scoot sleds. It will be impossible to visit Del Ray Variety this winter without finding something that draws you back to your childhood.
But if you need a box of paperclips, a pair of pliers, a bag of wild birdseed, some batteries, a pair of socks, a balloon or two for a last minute party plus the card you forgot, then Del Ray Variety hits the mark on all counts.
And never worry about finding a parking spot. Adjacent to their building is a huge space that is all yours to use.
This store is a dream for Arnett and Dorn, and I’m sure you will share their passion for this truly unique journey back to sweeter times when all you wanted was a pixie stick or an atomic fireball. It’s definitely a trip worth taking.
Del Ray Variety is open from 9:00 AM to 8:30 PM Monday through Saturday and 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM Sundays. For further information, visit delrayvariety.com.