The Pantry vs. Sheetz

Titans clash in lawsuit filed over N.C. gas prices

FUQUAY-VARINA, N.C. -- The Pantry Inc. recently filed suit against Sheetz Inc., claiming it broke North Carolina law by selling gasoline too cheaply at a station in Fuquay-Varina, N.C., according to NBC17-TV.

When Sheetz opened the Fuquay store in Februarythe chain's first in the regionit offered regular unleaded gasoline for $1.56 a gallon, which was about 25 cents below the prevailing price at the time, the report said. Other area stations, including The Pantry's Kangaroo, matched the price, reportedly creating a run on gas stations in southern Wake [image-nocss] County.

Sheetz did not violate the law in anyway, vice president and general counsel Mike Cortez said in a statement. While Sheetz did bring quality gas to the market at a very low price, it did so within the boundary of the law. We're proud of the level of efficiency we've achieved to be able to offer gas at low prices. It's unfortunate that the current law prevents us from offering even lower prices to our consumers.

Officials with The Pantry could not be reached for comment Wednesday by NBC17.

State law puts a floor price on what stations can charge in order to prevent one chain from underselling fuel in order to drive out competition.

Believe it or not, there is an effort now in North Carolina to try to strengthen the law that prevents us from selling quality gas as cheaply as we can, Cortez said in the statement. I have to wonder who this law is protecting. It certainly is not the people of North Carolina.

Prices across the region have risen sharply in recent weeks, even at the Sheetz station in Fuquay, where regular unleaded was selling for $2.13 a gallon on Wednesdaythe same price as nearby competitors, the report said.

The Pantry, Sanford, N.C., operates 1,345 stores in 10 states under banners including Kangaroo Express, The Pantry, Golden Gallon and Lil Champ Food Store.

Altoona, Pa.-based Sheetz operates more than 300 convenience locations throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio and three existing stores North Carolina.