The Dollar General Store that completely burned Tuesday night in Cottonwood was still smoldering Wednesday afternoon. Residents are wondering when the store will rebuild or open again for business.
There is no other store like the Dollar General for at least 10 miles outside of Cottonwood.
Those in neighboring communities are still shocked that the main shopping center is destroyed.
Florida Resident Coley Hearns said, "Well, I wasn't expecting it. I sure didn't. I stopped and I saw the damage and I said, ‘well, it's true what my wife said’."
For years, the Dollar General Store has been Coley's main meeting place between his home and Dothan.
It’s also the only place where most residents can one-stop-shop for everyday items.
Cottonwood Resident James Lewis says, "People around are already missing it. They were talking about it last night and all the other Dollar Stores around don't compare with this one."
The only other store in Cottonwood that compares to the Dollar General is the IGA, but it's a grocery store and doesn't carry clothing or other household items
Chief Jim Smith with the Cottonwood Police Department said, "I don't think people realize that being a small town, this is a catastrophic blow in terms of ability. People have to drive to Ashford or Greenwood or Dothan to shop and that's inconvenient."
However, the loss is not only affecting shoppers. With tens of thousands of merchandise lost and shoppers going elsewhere, it's also going to make an impact on the town's sales tax revenues.
The Alabama State Fire Marshal's Office is partnering with the Houston County Sheriff's Arson investigators. They say the crime scene looks suspicious, but won't be able to release details of the investigation for another couple of weeks.
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