Brad Paisley + Kimberly Williams-Paisley Open Free Nashville Grocery Store Early Amid Nashville Tornado Aftermath, Coronavirus Pandemic
The Store officially opened on Saturday (March 14), "due to the work of many dedicated volunteers, partners and donors," the Paisleys shared on Instagram. "We can now serve the needs of the community beyond the initial scope of our original mission."
The Store is a year-round grocery store, in which everything will be free for needy Nashvillians; in addition to groceries, it will offer a holiday-time toy aisle, on-the-job training and other services. Individuals and families will be referred by non-profit and government agencies for a one-year term, and both victims of the March 3 tornado in Nashville and those affected by ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19)-related shutdowns are now eligible.
As of Tuesday (March 17), Paisley shared on Instagram, The Store will also be offering grocery delivery to elderly patrons of the store in Nashville's Edgehill and Berry Hill neighborhoods. Older people are particularly at risk should they contract the coronavirus.
"In light of how times have changed, we've decided to change the way we do things a bit," Paisley says in an Instagram video. "Let's get through this."
Paisley and Williams-Paisley based the Store on a similar non-profit called the Unity Shoppe in Santa Barbara, Calif., at which the Paisleys and their children volunteered a few years ago. The Store's grocery store setup, complete with cash registers run by volunteers and students from Belmont University -- Paisley's alma mater -- aims to remove potential stigmas tied to food banks and other sources of help. The singer says that this format “takes away the sting of embarrassment for a parent who maybe feels that way because they can’t feed their kid.”
"Our goal is to give dignity to parents. They can go to the Store and shop in a completely normal way, from choosing the food to checking out, but with no money exchanging hands," Paisley says. "The kids can even ride a mechanical pony out in front of the Store — no charge. Kids do not need the stress of wondering how their parents are going to feed them."
The Store is located at 2005 12th Ave. South, next door to the Belmont University Ministry Center, at which needy families can receive further help through health care services and legal aid clinics. The Store hopes to help 3,000 people per year.
According to the World Health Organization -- which declared the coronavirus a pandemic on March 11 -- over 167,000 cases of the disease and 6,440 deaths because of it have been reported globally as of March 15. In the United States, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 3,487 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 68 deaths as of March 16.
Within country music, artists are doing their part by either postponing or canceling both concerts and entire tours, while festival organizers are both rescheduling and canceling springtime events. Among others, the annual Stagecoach festival, usually held in April, will now take place in October, while Zac Brown Band have chosen to delay the remainder of their springtime tour dates. On Sunday (March 15), the Academy of Country Music announced the postponement of the 2020 ACM Awards.
Coronavirus Pandemic: What Country Music Events Are Postponed or Canceled (or Not)?