Pens and Pencils | Reviews and Data

What’s The Deal With Tru Red Pens?

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Tru Red (often written as TRU RED) is a stationery brand that you might have seen come up recently. They company makes surprisingly nice products, but sales are largely limited to Staples stores.

Who is Tru Red? What products do the make? Is this a pen brand worth paying attention to?

Tru Red History

Tru Red was one of five sub-brands (known as “private label” brands that Staples announced on April 14, 2019.

Tru Red Website

Tru Red does  have a website of its own — trured.com.This website has some information, but for the vast majority of people it will actually be more helpful to learn about the brand’s products through Staples.com. This site is quite pretty, but has very limited functionality and usefulness.

Tru Red has a dedicated landing page on Staples’ site. You can find the Tru Red Staples.com home page here. This page will run you through the basics of Tru Red’s offerings as well as a bit about the brand.

Tru Red Product Line-up

So by now you are probably getting a hold on what Tru-Red stands for, but what does this private label produce? The main categories are below, with some sample products listed below them…

  • Pens
    • Capped Ballpoint Pen, Medium Point, 1.0mm ($1.99 for 12!)
    • Capped Ballpoint Gripped Pen
    • Retractable Quick Dry Gel Pens
    • Capped Quick Dry Gel Pens
  • Markers
    • Tank highlighter
    • Pocket Highlighter with Grip, Chisel Tip
    • Tank Dry Erase marker
    • Tank Highlighter with Grip, Chisel Tip
    • XL Tank Permanent Marker
    • Tank Dry Erase Markers
  • Paper
    • Loose printer paper
  • Journals
  • Notebooks
  • Scissors
    • 8″ Non-Stick Titanium Coated Scissors
    • 5″ Kids Blunt Tip Stainless Steel Scissors
  • Desk Organization
    • Hanging folders
    • Wire paper trays
    • 12-piece plastic desk set
  • Paper Shredders
  • Storage Bins
Tru Red Quick Dry Gel Pen

Tru Red Quick Dry Gel Pen

This is not only a nice gel pen, it also seems to be Tru Red’s most popular pen. While it is a private label products, it’s a rather nice one and will be more people’s first exposure to Tru Red.

Interestingly, it’s worth noting that Tru Red retractable gel pens appear to be made by Kaco. This isn’t a very “premium” thing to do, but it makes sense for a private label — make sure you give users a good product by putting your label on something you know is good!

The soft-touch rubber on the pen barrel feels rather nice and offers decent grip. It’s not great for sweaty hands but still better than smooth plastic. The cone having the same texture does make the pen easier to disassemble.

The click is pretty decent. It’s audible and has a nice clean feel. The button even goes flush to the top of the barrel. I stretched the spring in to make it a bit stronger.

The clip is solid plastic and very reminiscent of the Paper Mate InkJoy gel pens. It’s nothing special but serves it purpose well enough. The quick dry gel ink lays down quite smooth and consistent. It also has good color. It’s not as good as Sarasa or Energel ink color but still acceptable. 

This pen is quite nice to be so cheap. Many of us typically ignore “store brand” pens but the Tru Red gel pens are not bad at all!

Paper Products

While Tru Red does sell bulk printer paper in boxes of 5000 sheets up to pallets of 250,000 sheets of paper, their notebooks are likely more interesting to Unsharpen readers. These notebooks are rather nice, with paper weight and overall quality approaching that of a Rhodia or similar brand.

Products like the Tru Red Medium Hard Cover Ruled Notebook sell over over $10 but they are surprisingly nice and a great pickup (as well as a nice surprise) when visiting your local superstore.

The Tru Red Medium Hard Cover Ruled Journal is more of a Moleskine competitor and it’s pretty nice as well. Our top pick is the Tru Red Large Ultra Flexible Cover Graph Journal which comes in a nice gray color, has a flexible cover, and is one of the nicer notebooks from a non-core paper brand we’ve stumbled on in some time.

Paper Shredders

Interestingly the shredders are full-size electric paper shredders, not small, hand-powered ones. A number of Japanese brands, including Muji, make small hand shredders, but this one is more akin to a full-on Fellowes or something similar. Prices range up to about $300, so these are pretty serious devices.

Written with additions from T. Varner.