Updated Sunday, Jan 13, 11:27 a.m.
In an amazing display of community solidarity, a mass of supporters showed up Thursday at Greater Good Barbecue's fundraiser and raised loads of cash for Handy Ace Hardware employees displaced by the Dec. 28 fire.
There was live music, a silent auction, plenty of alcohol and some waits to get served. "This is the bomb," said local resident Carol Garner. "Us Tucker people stick together."
As television news crews mingled with swarms of people, restaurant staff bustled about keeping up with demand. Asked if she was OK, co-manager Tracey Wrench replied, "I guess. I left my body a long time ago."
Her husband, Bill Wrench, said he was swamped with donations. "People were giving me hundreds all night. It's great but a little overwhelming." He said it will be a little while before they know the amount raised "but it's going to be thousands."
"It's nice that everyone came out," said customer Sarah Seyfred. "They're slammed. It's a record-breaking night for them."
The hardware store employees who will benefit from this largesse are held in great esteem by many in Tucker, and Handy Ace owner Harold Smith is doing what he can to hang on to them while he makes plans to rebuild. "Obviously, we want to take care of them," he said.
He is meeting with architects and acquiring the necessary permits for a brand new store. "I'm starting with a clean canvas, in a way." As Smith looked around the packed restaurant, he said the outpouring of local support has been "really amazing, very touching."
Smith promised Patch he would provide regular progress updates and that once the new building is finished, there would be a big bash to celebrate.
An earlier version of this article stated the fundraiser would continue on Jan. 17. That is not the case.