Arp Food Store Burns Down - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


Arp Food Store Burns Down

Pam Mack was in the Arp Food Store when it caught fire yesterday.

"I told my daughter, I said, 'The stores on fire,' and she said, 'Mama, quit playing.' I said, 'Nope. The stores on fire.'  I looked up, and it was on fire, right here on the corner.  It was just full of smoke," Mack said.

When the Arp Food Store caught on fire yesterday afternoon, the entire town took notice.

Polly Price lives across the street from the store.

"I said, 'Oh, my God. That poor man.' He and his wife have worked so hard to keep this going," Price said.

For the last fourteen years, Sam Kutob has owned the Arp Food Store. People who live here say being at Sam's place, was like being at home.

"He was good to the people, and he would let them have credit. Some of them never even came back to pay, but if you needed food or something like that, Sam was there for you," Price said.

Now, Sam, a native of Israel, is trying to salvage what's left of his business, and he says the town is returning the favor.

Kutob said, "Everybody tells me, 'We're sorry,' you know? And everybody hugs me.  Just like family. I feel like a neighborhood family here. I got to be good with them, you know?"

As the blaze engulfed this 5,000 square foot store, Sam and his family could do nothing but watch. 

"We sat there, just all day long, we sat there. Our heart broke down, for our family. My wife started crying, you know? It was sad.  It was a sad scene, you know," Kutob said.

Mr. Kutob's insurance lapsed last summer, and he doesn't know yet whether he'll rebuild. If he does, it's a safe bet there will be plenty of customers waiting at his door.

Lindsay Wilcox, reporting.


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