Brad Paisley and his wife Kimberly Williams-Paisley have partnered with Brad's alma matter Belmont University on a new social enterprise, The Store, which will operate as a free grocery store in Nashville. The store will be set up like a modern food pantry and will provide fresh produce and nonperishable goods for those in need.
The idea for The Store came from a non-profit that the Paisley's volunteered at with their children called the Unity Shoppe, located in Santa Barbara, CA. They wanted to teach their children, Huck, 11, and Jasper, 9, a lesson in serving others and walked away with the inspiration to open a similar organization to help those in their own Nashville area.
“This is a grocery store with dignity for people who have fallen on hard times,” Paisley told 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 to someone, they can use it to get back on their feet.”
In order to "shop" at The Store, customers will need to be referred by a nonprofit or government agency. After being referred, customers can shop at The Store for up to one year. They can choose their own groceries and shop with respectability. The goal is to serve up to 3,000 people a year.
The Store is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit retail store that will offer a variety of foods that will help individuals strive for healthier lives through food choices. In partnership with Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and others, an assortment of fresh produce and nonperishable goods will be offered as well as donated food and a private line of specialty body care products in collaboration with Thistle Farms in Nashville, TN. Over time they plan to develop additional supplemental programs beyond the grocery store, such as job training, cooking, and nutrition classes.
In addition to groceries, The Store also plans to set up a toy aisle over the holidays. Throughout the year, they will be accepting donations of new, unopened toys. At Christmas, families can shop from those items to ensure that children will receive the gifts on their wish lists. Because of the collaboration with Belmont University, which will be piloting the Healthcare and Legal Aid Ministry Clinics in the 2018-2019 school year, The Store will be able to work with all of the charitable groups to provide a wide range of services to the city’s most vulnerable population.
The Store’s "Brick By Brick Campaign" to raise funds for construction of the storefront and establish funding to meet the operational needs for food is underway. About $500,000 is needed before groundbreaking with a total construction estimate of $1.2 million. The Paisleys will donate an initial gift to kick off the capital campaign. Depending on funding, The Store is set to break ground in 2019.
To learn more about The Store or to donate, please visit their website.
The Store will be located at 2005 12th Ave. S. in Nashville, next to Belmont University's Ministry center in the heart of the bustling 12th South district.