Matrix Announces Sale of Li’l Thrift Food Marts

The sale involves 43 company-operated petroleum marketing and convenience retail stores.

April 13, 2023

RICHMOND, Va.—Petroleum Marketing Group, Inc. has acquired Fayetteville, N.C.-based Li’l Thrift Food Marts, Inc. and its affiliates d/b/a Short Stop. The sale involves 43 locations and was announced by investment bank Matrix Capital Markets Group Inc.

Li’l Thrift was founded in 1971 by Vance B. Neal with a single store in Burlington, N.C.  The company nearly doubled in size in 1985 with the acquisition of E-Z Shop, a 23-store North Carolina convenience retailer. In 2004, it added seven Exxon-branded locations to its portfolio, which provided an expanded presence in the Fayetteville market. Vance Neal’s son, Chris, and daughter, Mary Morketter, continued to build upon their father’s legacy. They successfully implemented a program to modernize Li’l Thrift’s IT systems by integrating scanning and fuel equipment software and remained committed to the company’s high standards of cleanliness and customer service. 

All stores operate under the Short Stop backcourt branding. The stores offer a variety of fuel options, including 19 locations that market Exxon-branded fuel, five sites that feature the Marathon banner, 18 sites that offer unbranded fuel and one location that does not offer fuel. A related entity owned by Chris Neal, Ace Fueling, LLC, will continue to serve as a common carrier hauler for the Short Stop stores.

“Matrix was instrumental in shaping the way we went to market, how we evaluated bids and eventually choosing PMG as the successful bidder. …We believe that PMG will continue the same family traditions that have guided us over the years,” said Chris Neal.