Photo of Gina Hancock, Megan Zarling, Bob Fisher, Brad Paisley, Kimberly Williams-Paisley and David Minnigan at ground breaking for The Store.

The highly anticipated groundbreaking for The Store, nonprofit free-referral based grocery store, happened this morning. On hand for the ceremony were co-founders Brad Paisley and Kimberly Williams-Paisley along with Belmont University President Dr. Bob Fisher, The Store Board of Trustees Chair Megan Zarling and The Store Trustee member and architect David Minnigan.

In addition to outlining the vision for The Store, today’s event included unique surprises, including a commissioned artist’s print depicting Brad, Kimberly and Dr. Fisher in front of a rendering of The Store. The highlight of the event came when Brad personally jumped onto the backhoe on site to officially break ground on The Store’s location.

David Minnigan presents special print to the Paisleys and Dr. Fisher.

“I’m so excited to be here and see this dream come to fruition. In Nashville there are 1 in 7 people and 1 in 5 children that have food insecurity. That means they don’t know where they are going to get their next meal. The Store will be another resource to help families and individuals going through a hard time but working toward self-sufficiency.” says Kimberly Williams-Paisley.

Brad Paisley adds, “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. 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. In Nashville we have the power of the benevolence of the residents to support The Store.”

Brad Paisley uses a backhoe to officially break ground for The Store.

Belmont University President Dr. Bob Fisher said, “Belmont’s mission is to challenge students with an education that empowers them to use their talents and skills to engage and transform the world. As an alum, Brad Paisley has certainly achieved that mission and more throughout his career, and today’s groundbreaking for The Store marks another milestone in the work he and Kimberly are doing to impact lives for the better. I am especially grateful that Belmont University has been invited to partner with them in this effort, and our current students and faculty are already laying the groundwork to serve Store patrons through legal aid and health care clinics. This is just the beginning—we anticipate The Store being a significant part of the Belmont community for years to come.”

The Paisleys have partnered with Brad’s alma mater, Belmont University, on the location of The Store at 2005 12th Ave. South, next to the University’s Ministry Center. Belmont University has begun offering Legal Aid Clinics at the center and plan to also offer healthcare services. Both groups will work closely together to serve the broader community in a range of ways. The location is convenient to bus routes and in the heart of Nashville’s ever-growing 12 South district.

The building has been designed by Nashville-based architectural firm ESa (Earl Swensson Associates) which donated their services. Construction will be done by J&S Construction Company, Inc. The construction is projected to be completed by the end of 2019.

Founder’s Circle supporters include Belmont University, ESa, Sysco Corporation and Amerigroup Corporation. Sysco Corporation is providing a financial donation, equipment and food. Amerigroup Corporation is providing financial support and health and food expertise. Much of The Store’s food will come from Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee and will include perishable and nonperishable offerings. All food in The Store will follow guidelines set by dieticians from Second Harvest Food Bank. Individuals and families will be referred by nonprofit and government agencies.

The estimated cost of the building is $1.5 million for 4,000 square feet. To complete raising funds for The Store’s construction, the “Brick Campaign” has been launched. With a donation of $500 or more, donors will receive a personalized 4×8 brick that will create the sidewalk in front of The Store. There are a limited number of bricks. Donations are accepted via the website.

The Board of Directors for The Store include Brad Paisley, President; Megan Zarling, Chair; Pete Fisher, Vice-Chair; Doug Paisley, Secretary and Elaine Bryan, Treasurer. Other board members include Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Sarah Cates, Jaynee Day, Hope Fisher, David Minnigan, John Zarling, John Schario, Scott Scovill, Michael Stagg, Becca Stevens and Dawana Wade.  Executive Director is Gina Hancock.

About The Store

Brad Paisley and Kimberly Williams-Paisley have partnered with Belmont University to spearhead The Store, a year-round free grocery store allowing people to shop with dignity for their basic needs. Individuals and families will be referred by nonprofit and government agencies for a term of one year. There is no charge to those referred or to the people and agencies that send them. They may shop for food to supplement their income during times of crisis and as they work toward self-sufficiency.

A philosophy of community empowerment means The Store aims to solve hunger issues in its community by developing programs to meet the needs of the community, including partnering with other organizations on issues of food security. The Store believes in cooperation and collaboration between organizations to better serve the population. Over time, the organization plans to develop additional supplemental services beyond the grocery store, such as job training, cooking and nutrition classes.