“Money doesn’t grow on trees” is a well-worn phrase that emphasizes the fact that money is hard-earned and must be worked for. It’s a common response when someone’s asking for an unwarranted handout, especially when the asker is young and has never had a job or gotten a taste of bills and adult life.
But for one bar in Tybee, Georgia, money did grow on the walls, which has come in handy for its employees during a difficult time.
Jennifer Knox runs the Sand Bar alongside her mother, Pam Hessler. Knox worked her way up the ladder, starting as a bartender 13 years ago and becoming the owner six years ago.
For 15 years, one of the bar’s quirks was a signature wall where patrons could dash off a note or put their names on a dollar bill, then staple it to the wall. Up until just recently, entire walls and even the ceiling were papered in bills.
Like many other bars and restaurants, the Sand Bar was forced to close its doors in response to the coronavirus pandemic. As Knox reflected on their situation and her employees’ plights, she had an idea.
“We were sitting there doors locked and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s money on the walls and we have time on our hands,'” Knox told CNN. “‘We gotta get this money down.'”
“I can’t just sit here and do nothing,” she added. “I’ll do what I can for my people.”
“Since the word is getting out, thought I’d share it here!” Knox posted on Facebook on March 27. “The Sand Bar is going to have a fresh new look, while giving back at the same time! We are taking down the dollar bills!! And donating all the money to our bartenders and musicians that need it!”
“Figure, we got money (on the walls), and we got time!!” she wrote. “So excited for this Labor of Love. And a good spring cleaning!! Stay tuned!! *** Yes, Gage Alan McKnight still found a way to cross his legs, even on a ladder! And… CAN YOU GUESS HOW MANY DOLLARS OUR ON THE WALLS?!? Winner gets a prize!! Hopefully we’ll know within the week!!”
It took five people over three days to carefully remove all the bills. Once they were down, it took a week and a half to clean and count the bills.
Once the money was sorted and counted, it came to a total of $3,714 — a pretty penny for the collaborative wallpaper.
Once the bills were removed, the walls were painted in bright colors, adding some vibrancy to the space.
“Feeling overwhelmed today, with good and bad feelings,” Knox shared on Sunday. “[I]t’s hard to balance all these thoughts and feelings. I know you all understand that. I’m so grateful for all of your sweet comments and posts. Thank you.”
“We are not doing these news segments for the attention whatsoever, but they are looking for positive stories right now. Neither station mentioned this part though. I’ve set up a Venmo account, not only for my employees and musicians, but any other service industry person on tybee that needs the help. If you are feeling called to donate, here’s how. 100% is going to the people. We will get through this! And I can’t wait to sling some drinks for you all soon!!! Thank you, thank you!!!”
Over a span of three days, a Tybee Island bar removed $3,714 worth of bills stapled to their walls to give to their unemployed staff. 📸Jennifer Knox of The Sand Bar pic.twitter.com/Aiz2NBCPxy
— Amanda Jackson (@AmandaJ_TX) April 8, 2020
More people have since donated, bringing the total to $4,104 and resulting in $600 apiece for six people — four bartenders and two musicians.
“We all look out for each other,” Knox said. “We are all in this together.”
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