When Brad Paisley and his wife, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, had the idea to start The Store in Nashville, they had no idea the challenges people would face because of the pandemic. The singer opened up about their nonprofit, while appearing on The Kelly Clarkson Show, revealing that The Store just gave out its millionth meal, far exceeding their original plan.
“The reason it’s called The Store is for the dignity of parents saying to a kid, ‘Hey, let’s go to The Store,'” Paisley explained. “It’s a normal experience; the kid doesn’t know. It looks like they’re paying for the food, but what they’re really doing is just scanning a voucher card. It opened its doors in March, a week before the pandemic. We expected to do 300,000 meals last year, and we passed a million last week. We did a million meals last week. It’s more than we ever expected.”
The Paisleys had the idea for The Store after visiting a similar organization, called The Unity Shoppe, in Santa Barbara, California.
“It’s a grocery store that’s free if you lost your job,” Paisley said. “It’s meant to preserve the experience of shopping with the dignity of choice. You get to go through and pick out what it is you want to feed your family. The children ride around on a shopping cart, and they get the feeling of normalcy that you get. It’s a program where you graduate out of it, once you find a new job, once you get back on your feet.”
The Grand Ole Opry member had no idea when they started putting plans in place to open in Nashville, how much The Store would be needed. With the tornadoes hitting the city one week before everything started to shut down because of the pandemic, the timing Paisley believes as providential.
“It’s divine intervention, I think,” said the singer. “There’s no other explanation. We got our permits the week of the tornadoes and said, ‘Come on in. If you got hit by the tornadoes and need food, we got it.’ And then a week later, they shut everything down. You and I haven’t had tour dates since then.”
For more information, visit TheStore.org.