Music is a universal language, shared by people from all races, colors, and creeds. But country singer and songwriter, Brad Paisley is also teaching others that food is, too. Brad and his wife, Kimberly, are opening a free grocery store as a way of saying thank you to the Nashville community.
This news comes at a time when Thanksgiving is around the corner and people in North America and elsewhere have been hit with particularly severe natural disasters.
Together with Belmont University, Brad and his former university plan to start constructing what they’ve named The Store, “a non-profit free grocery store for individuals and families seeking self-sufficiency,” as soon as 2019 if they raise enough money. 
They describe it as a supermarket that will offer nonperishable and fresh groceries to the local community for a year.
“This is a grocery store with dignity for people who have fallen on hard times,” said Brad to the Tennessean.  “All of us are one unforeseen disaster away from rock bottom. It’s nice to think about a place where when that happens, they can use it to get back on their feet.”
Where Did the Idea for The Store Come From?
Last Thanksgiving, the Paisley family volunteered at an organization in Santa Barbara, California called the Unity Shoppe. The experience for Brad, Kimberley, and their boys Huck (11) and Jasper (9) was a humbling one and the catalyst for this new community project.
“It was inspiring because these people have dignity,” said Brad. “It’s not a scene from ‘Oliver Twist.’ These people are able to sit there and feel very, very normal in the eyes of their kids. I remember… thinking, ‘Why isn’t this everywhere?’” 
“[The Store is a] temporary Band-Aid on the road to self-sufficiency,” Kimberly added.  “So many people are making great choices in their lives. It’s not like they’ve made major mistakes, they just need a little extra help and we want to be a resource for those people.”
Almost everyone can remember a time in their lives when life got tough, life seemed impossible. That’s why Belmont University and the Paisleys are aiming to make The Store so much more than that…
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Vision: The Store’s Long-Term Goals
Yes, they will provide groceries. But during holidays, they hope to get enough new and used toy donations to open up free toy aisles so children don’t need to go without gifts. All year round, they also plan on providing on-the-job training in the form of Healthcare and Legal Aid Ministry Clinics which numerous charities will take part in. 
Megan Zarling, a Nashville-based attorney and chair of The Store’s board of trustees, highlights the fact that most people’s idea of poverty and famine is wildly misguided. It doesn’t necessarily look like raggedy clothes and homeless shelters.
“Hunger looks like You and me and one paycheck away from not being able to go to the grocery store,” said Zarling. “Studies show the last thing you pay for is food.” 
The Store’s Brick by Brick Campaign
The total construction costs are estimated to be around $1.2 million and the Paisley family has made an initial donation. However, $500,000 is required in order to start meeting the more pressing operational needs for food. If you want to know more about The Store or would like to donate, click this link.
Hopefully it is such a success that it stays open even longer than a year and we see other communities throughout the United States start doing the same!
 The Store on Instagram: “Brad Paisley and Kimberly Williams-Paisley Announce “The Store” A Non-Profit Free Grocery Store for Individuals and Families Seeking Self-…” (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/p/BobzvsqFQwQ/?utm_source=ig_embed
 Watts, C. (2018, October 02). Brad Paisley, Kimberly Williams-Paisley to open free Nashville grocery store for those in need. Retrieved from https://www.tennessean.com/story/entertainment/music/2018/10/02/brad-paisley-wife-belmont-free-nashville-grocery-store/1494670002/
 Brad Paisley and His Wife Kimberly Are Opening a Grocery Store Where Everything Is Free. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://people.com/food/brad-paisley-kimberly-williams-paisley-free-grocery-store-nashville/
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