Demaine Funeral Home

520 South Washington Street, Alexandria, VA


Charles Lester Vennell

July 6, 1931May 31, 2019

Charles Lester (Ben) Vennell, 87, of Alexandria, Virginia, passed away at home on May 31, 2019. Born July 6, 1931 in Oberlin, Pennsylvania, Ben worked for the Department of Labor until he enlisted in the Navy in 1950. After his tour of duty ended, Ben began a successful retail career. In 1958, he opened The Hollin Hall Variety Store, followed by The Needle and Thread in 1965 and The Treasure Chest in 1969. Ben retired in 2008 after owning The Variety Store and supporting the Alexandria/Mount Vernon community for 50 years.

Ben is survived by his wife of 66 years, Gloria Ann Vennell, of Alexandria, Virginia, his daughter Vicki Vennell (Beth Jaeger) of Fort Collins, Colorado, his daughter Diane DeGiorgi (John DeGiorgi) of Springfield, Virginia, his grandson Andrew DeGiorgi (Erin DeGiorgi) and great granddaughter (Emilia) of Fairfax, Virginia, and his granddaughter Lauren Winslow (Cody Winslow) of Richmond, Virginia.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 15, 2019 at 2:00pm at Aldersgate Methodist Church in Alexandria, Virginia. Memorial donations in Ben’s name may be made to the organization of your choice.


  • Memorial Service Saturday, June 15, 2019


Charles Lester Vennell

have a memory or condolence to add?

Timi Timberlake Doyle

June 10, 2019

Mr Vennell gave me my first job at the Original Variety Store in the 60's. I took care of the candy counter and kept it full with all the penny candy. The time came when Mr Vennell opened the New Variety Store and I was the head cashier that day. No fancy cash registers in those days.
Time passed and I worked after college for the airlines and got married in 1968. We lived in River Towers and again I was employed by Mr Vennell to open and close The Needle and Thread.
Twins arrived in 1971. My Father even took them to the candy counter.

Thanks for the fond memories.
May you rest in Peace..

Melissa Malnerich

June 9, 2019

I used to go to the variety store on a regular basis when I was young. I lived on the other side of Wellington Rd. I would ride my bike, walk it across the creek, then hit the store. I will never forget all the sections of penny candy. I would bring $.50 and get a whole little paper bag full. Those were some of the best memories of my childhood.

Mary Nottingham

June 6, 2019

What a wonderful man. My mom shared with me, many years after the fact, that she would call Ben anytime we left on our bikes to go to the Variety Store. He would call her to let her know when we got there safely, and then call her again when we left there. Who does that? Someone who puts community and family first, that's who. Rest well, Mr Vennell. You have earned it.