Lisa Blevins, owner of Alter Vapes in downtown Greensboro, has ties all over the Triad.
Lisa Blevins

Lisa Blevins

Owner of Alter Vapes

Lives in: Winston-Salem

Travels to: Greensboro

Lisa Blevins always liked Winston-Salem, but after a long-term relationship ended, it pushed her to pick up from Greensboro and try something new. Blevins had opened Alter Vapes in downtown Greensboro in August 2013, but that didn’t stop her from moving to Winston-Salem last February. She already had friends there, and her brother Joe too, but there were more components drawing her in.

“Winston-Salem has more texture than Greensboro, meaning that it has more hills,” she said, laughing a little. “Now my house is on a hill and I’m very happy about it. And there’s more art and diversity.”

Blevins opened the vape shop after growing “tired of being an office wench” and quitting cigarettes immediately with the help of a vape. She works there full time and runs it with her other brother Chip.

Despite her long tenure in Greensboro, she really only misses being able to walk to work. But she has no intention of relocating the business to Winston-Salem — if anything she’d open up a second shop there, keeping the first intact.

— EG

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Tom Terrell
Tom Terrell

Tom Terrell

Partner at Smith Moore law firm

Lives in: High Point

Travels to: Greensboro

Tom Terrell’s roots in High Point go back to the 1700s. He has ancestors who were buried in a Quaker cemetery at the Springfield Friends Meeting in the early 1800s. Although he was born in El Paso, Texas — his father, from south Greensboro, was in the armed services — his family moved to High Point when Tom was 6 months old.

After earning a law degree from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1985, Terrell returned to High Point to start a family of his own.

“I came back to High Point out of a sense of loyalty,” he said, “but sometimes that loyalty is challenged.”

Terrell left the Wyatt Early Harris Wheeler law firm in High Point to join the larger Smith Moore law firm in Greensboro in 2000. His wife, Gaither, also works in Greensboro — as director of the counseling center at Guilford College. Their son, Joseph, incidentally, plays guitar in the acclaimed Chapel Hill folk group Mipso.

Tom Terrell said he finds that opportunities for leadership spring more naturally from the place he calls home than where he works. But working outside of High Point cuts into his ability to pursue leadership opportunities in his hometown.

“It makes it much harder, if not sometimes impossible to serve in a leadership role in High Point organizations,” he said. “A meeting that should take an hour of my time would take three and a half to four hours to travel, do the meeting and travel back. Since I started working in Greensboro in 2000, I have been the president of the High Point Historical Society. I have chaired what was called the Core City Project. I’ve done a couple other things. I’ve been on the chamber of commerce board of directors. The number of things I’ve done pales in comparison to what I would have done if I had been able to be here in the day.”

He has also played an active role in supporting candidates for local office over the past three decades.

Terrell has also served on the Winston-Salem State University Board of Trustees, giving him ties to all three Triad cities. Phil Phillips, then a member of the UNC Board of Governors recruited him to the position. Phillips told Terrell the board needed an outsider because it had been challenged by infighting. They also needed someone who was sensitive to historically black colleges and universities but not directly involved in the world of higher education.

“It was my first blind date, and I loved it,” Terrell said. “I had eight happy years there. I was the commencement speaker in December 2004.”

Terrell said he’s observed that it’s becoming more common for people who live in High Point to work in Greensboro or Winston-Salem. That’s partly a function of the two larger cities having more institutions of higher learning and larger hospitals that provide greater employment opportunities for professionals.

“The Triad is a wonderful place to work and raise a family,” Terrell said. “Of the three main cities, High Point has a long way to go. We are still a city of 100,000 that has no downtown. Our downtown is a trade district that is closed to the citizens of the city. It hurts us bad. Every other city around us — Jamestown, Kernersville and Lexington — have figured out a way to revitalize their core. We have not figured that out. Instead we fight each other. We have no leadership; we have no vision. We definitely have a long way to go to catch up with Winston-Salem and Greensboro as places to live.”

Friends, church, family connections and a mortgage anchor the Terrells to High Point, but Tom said the equation of “live in High Point — work and play in Greensboro and Winston-Salem” isn’t satisfying.

“If I were starting over I would choose Greensboro over High Point,” he said, “not because I work there, but because High Point of late does not have the political or civic leadership that we need.”

—JG

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