When Brad Paisley and wife Kimberly Williams-Paisley planned the launch of their free grocery store, The Store, in Nashville in March, the couple had prepared for a soft opening to work out the kinks. Instead, they've been busy from the jump, due to a series of events including the Nashville tornado in early March and the coronavirus pandemic that followed. During a virtual appearance on the Today show on Monday, April 20, Paisley shared an update on The Store, revealing that he and his wife did not expect the business they've gotten.
"We had about a week of operating like we expected when we opened in March, and here we are opening something like this when, basically, all hell breaks loose," he told Hoda Kotb. "Now we’re already serving three times the amount of people we expected right away. We thought we would soft roll this thing out, like a slow build to what we would become, and all of the sudden we’re kind of thrown into the fire with it, but it’s really going well so far — knock on wood — I think."
The Store operates as a free grocery store that serves customers in need for a one-year period as they work toward self-sufficiency. "It's free to folks who lose their jobs or fall on hard times," Paisley shared. "We kind of built this from the ground up with a bunch of great, smart people in Nashville based on the model of one in Santa Barbara that we love what they do called Unity Shoppe. It was all about, let's say you lose your job and you need groceries and you don't know where you're gonna get the money for that. It's a dignity-type of shopping experience, where it kind of feels normal."
When Paisley and Williams-Paisley opened The Store in March, they immediately began a program to delivery groceries to elderly residents in the Nashville area due to the coronavirus. "It’s easy to feel lost right now. It turns out, our little charity endeavor [The Store] has fortuitous timing," Paisley shared in a social media post announcing The Store's opening last month. "Due to the work of many dedicated volunteers, partners and donors, The Store has been able to open earlier than anticipated. We can now serve the needs of the community beyond the initial scope of our original mission. In conjunction with our referral partners, those affected by the recent tornadoes and coronavirus outbreak can receive aid for the road to recovery."