Employees say it only took a few minutes for a fast fire to reduce Big Star to bits and mangled metal pieces.
"A customer was standing at door and I was inside, she said it smells like there's smoke out here and by the time I stepped out and went to the front of the building flames were already coming up the side," said store manager Teresa Gladden.
Cell phone video captured by Mary Gruber shows smoke and flames devouring the building. As fire crews from across Perry County smothered the smoldering store, customers and employees stood nearby, taking it all in.
"Aww man this is the only grocery store in this town, it means a lot to everybody," said customer Tina Johnson.
"It's not just a supermarket, it's the community hub," said owner Steve Goode.
Many are worried about the trek to the next store, nearly 30 miles away in Morrilton.
"It's sad, I cried about it when I first heard about it," said customer Penny Wilson.
Without Big Star, Wilson says she worries about how she'll get groceries.
"I'm handicapped, don't have no car and it's close, my neighbors can take me up here to buy food. It's going to devastate me," Wilson added.
Like Wilson, Big Star employees are also concerned about the future. Many rushed themselves and nearly 50 customers to safety Wednesday afternoon, only to watch their financial security go up in smoke.
"My heart goes out to everybody. We've had people working here for 20 years and here we are today," said Gladden.
Goode has been through this before and remains sad but optimistic. He says Big Star burned down Valentine's Day 1993. The owners rebuilt then and say they plan to again.
"It's a priority because Perryville is a good community," he said.
The owner says some of the employees will be able to transfer to their other store but they're not sure how long it will take them to rebuild.