The life of the typical Twelve Tribes member is very simple. Women's dresses and "Sus" pants are hand made and most other clothes are bought at thrift stores. Much of the communities organic food is self grown. Members have given up all their possessions and do not have worldly treasures such as TV's, radios, jewelry, expensive cars etc. Ex-leaders and members often talk about the frugality of the life within the Twelve Tribe communities where every penny is pinched and members work long hours for no pay. The Twelve Tribes leaders do not deny this. They are actually very proud of this fact because they are working to build the kingdom of God on earth and preparing the Messiah's bride for His return.
The TT leaders adamantly deny that Gene Spriggs lives a "jet-setting" life or any different than the average member in good standing. However, Michael Painter and James Howell, former high level leaders (3rd and 4th in command under Spriggs and Eddie Wiseman) have gone on record as stating that Spriggs has a wallet full of credit cards and travels where he wants when he wants and also enjoys luxuries the average member does not have access to. As the only apostle for the Twelve Tribes it is his role and duty to plant new communities wherever he feels God is leading. So it is necessary for him to travel around the world to do this. Gene always had an inclination towards world travel. In his own biography published by the TT they state he gave up an executive job to take a job as a tour director for a large travel company so that he could see the world.
The Twelve Tribes has never had difficulty purchasing buildings, businesses and property to expand their kingdom on earth. They have claimed in the past that although a number of people come into the communities willing to give up wealth and possessions, just as many come in with little or nothing or even bring a load of debt that requires the community to pay-off. So how can they enter a town and drop millions of dollars to buy one or multiple buildings? How did they afford to host a large Cultural Event on the National Mall in Washington DC June 26-July 6th 2004 (Take a tour at Rekindling the Fire)? How can they afford to produce high quality films denouncing Christianity (see my article to Keli in the TT Parchment Press)?
The Twelve Tribes can do this because they own over 24 substantial businesses around the world. Many of these are high-end construction companies that list no affiliation to the Twelve Tribes on their websites or advertisements. Below, I have provided a consolidated list of direct links to these Twelve Tribes businesses. These are all businesses that you could stumble across on the various sites hosted by the communities, but as far as I have found, there is no one single list as I have provided below. I believe this is because the Twelve Tribes does not want the public or for that matter their own members to comprehend the vast amount of wealth that is generated by these businesses.
The TT leaders will tell you that many of their restaurants are operated at a loss. Most of these restaurants are not even listed below. Many ex-members have confirmed they often run at a loss but are necessary to recruit new members. However, these are far offset by the other lucrative construction companies as well as the furniture and other products that are made with "free" labor. The most recent defectors from the Twelve Tribes (especially those in leadership positions) complain the Twelve Tribes has become more of a business than a Messianic community.
Many people were amazed to find out a few years back that this obscure group actually had a large contract with Estee Lauder to provide their Origins products. In fact the group had been providing these products from 1995 through 2001 until Estee Lauder found they were using child labor to produce, package and distribute the products. Likewise, the Twelve Tribes provided products to Robert Redford's Sundance company until he cut-off dealings with them for child labor issues.
The following links are for those Twelve Twelves business that have/had a website. In addition to these businesses, there are a number of "cottage industries" the Twelve Tribes owns and operates with free labor from their members and their children. I will add to the list below as I become aware of more businesses.
Twelve Tribes Businesses in the US
- BOJ Construction - General Contracting (trim carpentry, cabinets, etc) and New Home Construction
- Common Wealth Construction - This is a high end construction company located in Savannah GA
- Anything Builders - The name says it all.
- Common Ground Cafe - This is the TT Cafe in Cambridge, NY
- Common Sense Farm - This is the TT Soap Shop in Cambridge, NY
- Mate Factor - This is the TT company that imports and packages Yerba Mate which they also produce in Brazil (again with free labor). This company sells Yeba Mate through many non-TT distributors as well
- Mate Factor Cafe - Direct sales of Mate Factor Products. This company makes no direct reference to being a Twelve Tribes owned organization. - New
- Common Sense Market - This is the TT whole-foods store in Plymouth, Ma
- The Parchment Press - This is the TT Print Shop in Coxsackie, NY (my dear friend Keli works there)
- Elad Products - High quality children's clothing
- Ozark Rustic Hickory Furniture - Quality rustic hickory lodge furnishings from Lake of the Ozarks, MO
- Simon The Tanner - Cobbler Shop and Shoe Store. Outfitter stores along the Appalachian trail and throughout the Northeast
Twelve Tribes International Businesses
- Sentido Comun - The TT Common Sense store in Spain
- Common Loaf - Bread and Baked goods store in England
- Prinz & Bettler - A Common Ground Cafe in Germany
- Tribal Trading Company - World Wide TT Tribal Trading Site
- Tribal Trading Catalog - Online Tribal Trading Catalog
- De Tribu a Tribu - Tribal Trading Outpost in Spain
- Tribal Trading De - Tribal Trading Outpost in Germany
- Tribal Trading Fr - Tribal Trading Outpost in France
- Tribal Brazil - Tribal Trading Outpost in Brazil
- Natuerlich Gemeinsam - TT Natural products from
- Mate Factor of Canada - Canada's largest importer of Yerba Mate - New
- Mate Factor of France - France's largest importer of Yerba Mate- New
- Mate Factor of Germany - Germany's largest importer of Yerba Mate- New
- Tribal Brasil - Organics - Organic food supplier including Yerba Mate- New
Mate Factor and Common Grounds Locations- New
- Manitou Springs, Colorado - 966 Manitou Ave- New
- Ithaca NY - 143 E State St- New
- Asheville NC -2002 Riverside Dr Suite 42-E - New
- Winnipeg, Canada - 79 Sherbrook St. - New
- Hamburg NY - 327 Buffalo St - New
- Dorchester Ma - 2243 Dorchester Ave - New
- Nelsen BC Canada - 202 Vernon St. - New
- Oak Hill NY - 7771 State Rt. 81 - New
- Hyannis Ma - 420 Main Street - New
- Rutland VT - 23 Center Street - New
- Lancaster NH - 55 Main St. - New
Business that have closed or who’s websites are down:
- impaktgrafik.com - High-impact web site development.
- basketlights.com - Charming hanging basket lights and lamps.
- kombuchafactor.com - The ancient recipe for Kombucha tea is the factor for good digestion and a healthy sense of well-being.
- thecommonpot.com - Hand-thrown stoneware pottery from
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