Brad Paisley and his wife, actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley, are opening a grocery store, appropriately called The Store, in Nashville, where all the food will be free. The couple — who are working with Paisley's alma mater, Belmont University, to open The Store — were inspired to help those in need after a recent trip with their sons, 11-year-old Huck and Jasper, 9, to Santa Barbara, California.
According to Paisley, he and his wife thought their children were acting spoiled, so while in Santa Monica near Thanksgiving, they decided to take the boys to volunteer at a place called the Unity Shoppe, where those in need can receive both food and necessities, along with job training.
"It was inspiring because these people have dignity," Paisley told The Tennessean. "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?' Essentially, we got this idea that it could be a very effective thing in Nashville."
The Store, which will partner with Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee, will be close to Belmont University, offering everything for free to those referred by both non-profit and government agencies.
"This is a grocery store with dignity for people who have fallen on hard times," said the performer, who also serves as the president of The Store's board of trustees. "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."
"It's that Billy Hill song, 'There's Too Much Month at the End of the Money,'" added Pete Fisher, co-chair of The Store's board of trustees and CEO of the Academy of Country Music. "A lot of times when people fall on tough times, they don't need a lifeline for a lifetime, they just need a bridge and the store affords those families a dignified way to cross that bridge and achieve that self-sufficiency."
Although The Store will not be identical to The Unity Shoppe, it will also offer job training and other necessities besides food, along with a toy aisle at the holidays.
"[It's a] temporary Band-Aid on the road to self-sufficiency," Williams-Paisley said. "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."
The Store will be located adjacent to Belmont University's Ministry Center. A Brick by Brick campaign is currently underway, to raise funds for the construction of the store, as well as cover operational costs. The Paisleys have already committed to providing the initial donation to kick off the campaign. More information can be found at TheStore.org.
Paisley will return to host the 2018 CMA Awards with Carrie Underwood on Nov. 14. The show will air at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
Photo Credit: Getty images/Roy Rochlin