SAN ANTONIO – Fire gutted a neighborhood store south of downtown on Wednesday morning.
While fire crews quickly put out the flames, the damage was already done at Primo's Food Mart at 164 Oelkers St.
"It was tragic and we don't know how bad it is," Felix Chavez, a neighbor, said. "I'm working for the owner now and look at my age. I worked for the other owners, (too). It means a lot to me. We lost a good store."
The mom-and-pop market holds a very special place in the hearts of those who live around it. Residents, like Chavez, gathered around the corner store in disbelief.
"A lot of us from this neighborhood either grew up in it or worked for it. We lost a family member because that's the closest store and everybody depended on it," Chavez said.
Chavez and his neighbors exchanged stories while viewing the devastation.
"When I was little-little, they used to have two-for-a-penny, three-for-a-penny cookies. You don't see that anymore," Chavez said. "The old mom-and-pop stores ... got closed down. This is the last of the last."
The store owner was heartbroken to see his beloved store of 11 years be declared a complete loss. But he said he's not giving up because his customers are like family, and he loves them as much as they do the store.
Damage was estimated at $100,000. Arson investigators are looking into a cause.