Brad Paisley and wife Kimberly Williams-Paisley teamed up with Belmont University and Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee to create The Store—a free grocery store in Nashville that serves individuals and families experiencing food insecurities and financial hardship. The nonprofit was slated to open in mid-April, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic and tornado devastation in Middle Tennessee earlier this year, the grocery store opened one month early in mid-March.
Since that time, The Store has focused on delivering meals and curbside pick-up, as opposed to its original plan of having individuals visits its brick-and-mortar location.
Brad made a virtual appearance on Watch Watch Happens Live on Sept. 23 and told host Andy Cohen that The Store has already provided 500,000 meals in Nashville.
“Our original model was to have this great model of a grocery store, which has dignity for people,” says Brad. “They can come through—and it’s different than something like a soup kitchen . . . they have a choice, and there’s dignity in choice, they just don’t pay. It was working for a week before the pandemic hit, and then we switched to deliveries, and eventually we will go back to what we intended to be, but right now, we’re serving five times what we expected, and since March, we have provided 500,000 meals in Nashville. We didn’t expect that. We thought we would do about 100,000 in the first six months, and here we are, but that’s the times we’re living in.”
The Store will eventually operate—as initially intended—as a year-round free grocery store that allows people to shop for their basic needs. Clients will be given the opportunity to come to The Store for a one-year period. There is no charge to those referred or to the people and agencies that send them. They may shop for food to supplement their income during times of crisis and as they work toward self-sufficiency. Brad and Kimberly were inspired to get involved in the Nashville project after volunteering at a similar organization, Unity Shoppe, in Santa Barbara, Calif.
The Store is located at 2005 12th Ave. S. in Nashville.
photo by TCD