Brewery Staffed By Gang Members Closes

, Brewery Staffed By Gang Members Closes

(Courtesy TRU Colors / Molson Coors)

Brewery closures always bum us out. But TRU Colors announcement, that they’d be closing their doors for good on September 9, is particularly sad.

Here’s the deal…

Wilmington, N.C.-based TRU Colors was created of George Taylor, who, upset at the level of gang violence in the city, sought to create a solution hand-in-hand with local gang leaders. And he founded a brewery in 2019 that hired active gang members, giving them economic opportunities and, in turn, leveraging their influence inside gangs to reduce violence.

, Brewery Staffed By Gang Members ClosesWe’ve never seen a stronger mission statement than that and with the help of Molson Coors, who took a minority stake in the brewery, TRU Colors started brewing TRULight is 4.2% ABV a light lager, with only 95 calories and 2.6 carbs.

But TRU Colors was forced to delay distribution of its first beer by several months after one of its employees and another woman were murdered in a gang-related shooting at the home the brewery’s COO George Taylor III.

Three gang-members were eventually arrested and charged for that double homicide and then came COVID, which placed a huge economic burden on the brewery at the worst possible time.

And on September 7 George Taylor announced TRU Colors’ imminent closure…

This from that statement…

I spent the past 7 years working closely with so many amazing people trying to better our city. Over time, our work turned into TRU Colors, a social mission with a tightly integrated business.

There was no playbook, and while we made mistakes, we learned and TRU Colors became effective in its social mission. But it has nevertheless been tough gaining local support. I’ve asked many about this, and generally the response is that for many in Wilmington, optics are more important than results. I sure hope this is untrue since this lack of care and courage would make real social change nearly impossible.

With these challenges and more (COVID delays to product issues to biased media to lost teammates), TRU Colors has faced stiff headwinds that have slowed progress. These challenges have only increased in 2022, and with recent events, tragically we are no longer able to continue.

To the TRU Colors team and all the others who were counting on our success, I am deeply sorry I let you down. TRU Colors is so much more than a startup or financial investment. It is a vision and a mission, that are critical to our future. What our team did mattered and what our team did worked, but we ran out of runway.

The cost of change is high.


(All image credits TRU Colors)

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