S.C. Rep. Don Wells, R-Aiken, said his paint store in downtown Aiken had an amazing 18-year run, but he and his family made the difficult decision to close the store at the end of May.

Wells said Park Avenue Paints, formerly located at 200 Park Ave., opened its doors in 1996 when he purchased the store from Benjamin Moore & Co., who had previously owned the store since the 1960s.

Wells started out in sales with Benjamin Moore and moved into management during his last six years with the company.

Then in 1996, Wells began a lengthy career as the owner of Park Avenue Paints.

“It was an amazing 18 years, and the people of Aiken were so wonderful to us,” he said. “We thank them for standing by us and giving us their support.”

Like many other small businesses, Wells said it just became increasingly difficult to make ends meet, which is why he decided to shut down the store.

Still, he believes in the small-business culture in Aiken and said it is a sign that everyone needs to continue rallying around small businesses.

“Small businesses still remain the lifeblood of our community and of out nation,” he added. “We have to keep them relevant by supporting them and fighting for their existence.”

Wells, who was leasing the building, said it’s his understanding that someone has already stepped in and is currently leasing the building.

He added that renovations to the building may begin over the next couple of weeks.

In addition to being a small-business owner, Wells served on Aiken City Council from 2005 to 2012.

After his time on City Council, he was voted into the S.C. House and is currently nearing the end of his first term.

Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard. He joined the paper in June 2013. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry.