Charleston’s Pearlstine Distributors being sold after 147 years of family ownership
One of Charleston’s longest-running family businesses is changing hands but it isn’t going anywhere.
A long legacy
1865: Isaac M. Pearlstine opened a general store in Beech Hill in Jasper County.
1885: The Pearlstines open a wholesale grocery, hay and grain business in Charleston at 493 King St.
1900: I.M. Pearlstine & Sons expanded to include stores in Walterboro, Eutawville, Mount Holly, Hampton, Kingstree, Sumter and Florence.
1918: The family company purchased Farline Supply Co., which would evolve into a distributor for Bevo, a beer-flavored soft drink developed by Anheuser-Busch in anticipation of Prohibition.
1933: Prohibition was repealed. Bevo production had ended years earlier, but the affiliation with Anheuser-Busch continued.
1961: A branch distribution operation was established in Beaufort.
1970: Company moved to a facility on Gaynor Avenue in North Charleston.
1971: Edwin Pearlstine incorporated the business as Pearlstine Distributors.
1982: Palmetto Distributors was formed to handle wines, snack foods, liquor, mixers and bar supplies.
1995: Palmetto Distributors was sold. Pearlstine Distributors focused entirely on the distribution of brewed beverages.
2003: Company opened a new headquarters and distribution center off Clements Ferry Road.
2012: Pearlstine Distributors agreed to be sold to Southern Eagle of Georgia.
The 147-year Pearlstine Distributors Inc., which sells and delivers Anheuser- Busch beers and other brewed beverages, agreed to be sold to Southern Eagle Distributing of Savannah.
The deal was announced today amid “mixed emotions.”
“This is the result of a family business decision, and we anticipate the sale will be complete by the end of the year,” the fifth-generation Charleston company said in statement.
Terms of the sale were not disclosed.
Employees were notified about the sale Friday. They will be updated as the sale progresses, the company said.
“It’s been a very weighty day,” said Susan Pearlstine, who, with sister Jan Pearlstine Lipov, is a fifth-generation owner of the company started by their great-great grandfather.
The siblings took over the business from their father, real estate developer Edwin Pearlstine, who remains actively involved in the company but is no longer a shareholder, he said Friday. He sold the company to his children in 1993.
Pearlstine was started as a general store by I.M. Pearlstine in 1865.
Pearlstine Distributors noted that Southern Eagle is also a multi-generational business “with a strong commitment” to its employees and the communities is works in.
Will Dorminy, owner of Southern Eagle, and his family plan to relocate and set up their business headquarters in Charleston.
“We feel like this great growth opportunity for the people who work here,” Pearlstine said,
She added: “We’re not going anywhere. We’re here. We’re committed to the community.”
Pearlstine said it will be “business as usual” between now and the sale.
“We don’t want any of our customers to worry, she said.
Southern Eagle was an ideal buyer of the business, said Larry Lipov, president of Pearlstine Distributors. He noted that Dorminy’s company controls the Anheuser-Busch service territory along the entire Georgia coastline.
Pearlstine Distributors’ sales area starts just across the border in South Carolina and ends at the Santee River, Lipov said.