Brad Paisley Talks Opening His Free Grocery Store Early: 'I Don't Know How We Did It'

In March 2020, Brad Paisley and his wife Kimberly Williams-Paisley opened The Store, a free grocery store in Nashville that helps those who are struggling to get the food they need. During a recent appearance on The View, Paisley reflected on The Store's opening, which happened earlier than anticipated due to the tornado in Nashville, which happened shortly before the pandemic began in the United States.

"That's another thing about this pandemic that's an unexpected sort of blessing," Paisley said, sharing that after The Store opened, "we were hit with this crazy demand." "We expected to do about 300,000 meals last year and we ended up doing a million in January," he shared. "We weren't even a year old yet. I don't know how we did it, but you rise to it in a time like this, I think."

The concept for The Store was based on the Unity Shoppe in Santa Barbara, California, and was created in partnership with Paisley's alma mater, Belmont University in Nashville. The establishment gives its customers "the dignity of choice," allowing them and their families to have a traditional shopping experience. They come in and choose their own food, though they do not pay at checkout. "It's literally a program to get people back on their feet," Paisley explained.

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Along with opening The Store, another bright spot for the country star over the past year has been his Zoom calls with fans. "It's been really something unexpected as far as a blessing goes," he said. "I really never expected... when this thing started, it really hit me like a ton of bricks that there would be very little way to connect with these folks. The next thing you know, here comes Zoom, here comes all of these FaceTime and the ways that we can jump onto communication calls with each other."

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The West Virginia native started crashing fans' Zoom calls thanks to his text number, where he started receiving invitations to Zoom events. "The next thing you know, I'm jumping in their happy hours on Fridays," he said. "It was amazing to see nurses after their shift say, 'Hey, you want to have a beer?' And the next thing you know, I'm talking to folks that just got off the frontlines. It's been the most rewarding part of this in some strange, unexpected way."