Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Wellspring of creativity

Posted July 14, 2010 10:27 a.m. EDT

I always seem to meet interesting people during my annual trek to Boone, Blowing Rock and Linville every July. This year I ran into the brains behind Wellspring Grocery. I should disclose a family connection. Lex Alexander is the brother of Chuck Alexander, the husband to my niece. Lex and his wife Anne came up with the brilliant idea of offering high quality nutritious food while encouraging customers to be more connected with the food they consumed. Their first Wellspring Grocery opened in Durham in 1981. Others would follow in the Triangle and they were hugely successful. Wellspring joined Whole Foods Market in 1991.

Lex lives in Chapel Hill where he has a new enterpreneurial venture. Lex is the managing partner of 3CUPS. This company sells coffee, tea, wine and chocolate. They buy their products from small farms and they develop a close relationship with their vendors. Their goal is pretty simple – to sell really great stuff in small amounts. None of their products comes from industrial agriculture or factory production. It’ll be fun to see how things unfold for 3CUPS.

Lex looks and acts like a thinker. There’s a quiet confidence about him. He seems to breathe in his surroundings with a sense of anticipation that another great idea might be just a conversation away. I really enjoyed the evening I spent with Lex, family and friends in Blowing Rock recently.

What does it take to make a great entrepreneur? I would like your thoughts. Who are North Carolina’s most important entrepreneurs? Please share your thoughts.