The owner of a Georgia bar painstakingly removed thousands of one-dollar bills that had previously adorned the walls of the establishment in order to pay her employees who are out of work due to the coronavirus, CNN reports.
The Sand Bar in Tybee Island, Georgia, is, like untold numbers of bars and restaurants across the country, closed, as would-be patrons are staying at home in order to stem the tide of the coronavirus pandemic. That means that the bar's employees are out of work, earning neither tips nor paychecks.
However, the bar, owned by Jennifer Knox, is also decorated with thousands of one-dollar bills pinned to the walls. The bills serve as mementos, signed gifts from the customers who have passed through the building over the years.
Knox put two and two together and realized that the thousands of dollars on the walls could be used to pay her furloughed employees.
"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. We gotta get this money down,'" she said.
It took several days and five volunteers, but Knox and her team painstakingly removed each of the one-dollar bills from the wall. Some were stiff and weathered, having been there for over a decade. Once taken down, the bills had to be cleaned before they could be used. Knox's team also had to sort through and put aside some foreign currency that couldn't be used.
"I can't just sit here and do nothing. I'll do what I can for my people," Knox said.Counting the money that had been removed from the walls, plus a few hundred dollars in donations, Knox was able to pay $4,104 to her employees. Four bartenders and two musicians each got $600, she said.
"We all look out for each other. We are all in this together," said Knox, who is still collecting donations.
Knox is one of many Tybee Island business owners who are feeling the pinch of the coronavirus pandemic. The island depends on seasonal tourist revenue, and the summer season would have ordinarily begun in March, just as the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. was beginning to be understood.
With each week that passes, Knox's money-making season gets a week shorter, and the future of many island businesses remains uncertain.
Meanwhile, when tourists do finally return to the Sand Bar, they'll see a fresh coat of paint where the dollar-bill-lined walls had once stood. Knox says that she is currently brainstorming other ways that customers can leave mementos of their visits.