Tradition, hospitality, and creativity: that's Auburn-Opelika. It's all here, from the bustling businesses in downtown Auburn to the cafes and shops on 8th Street in Opelika. However, it’s the passionate, dedicated, and brilliant-minded people who truly make Auburn and Opelika special. Whether they're crafting culinary delights, curating unique shopping experiences, or providing top-notch services, the people of Auburn-Opelika embody the spirit of hospitality, enriching the lives of both residents and visitors alike.

One of those amazing individuals is Donna Young, owner and founder of Behind the Glass, a boutique in downtown Auburn that has been open for over 30 years. In 1987, downtown Auburn was quieter; with less hustle and bustle than today. But, for Donna, it was the perfect time to open her business, featuring a café, art gallery, and vintage clothing and gift shop.

“I wanted to bring something to downtown that it didn't have,” Donna said. “In the beginning, it was more of a gathering place and the idea was that people would come in for food and coffee and then they would be exposed to art. It's always had an artistic, creative bend to it.”

Larger than the average boutique, today Behind the Glass offers a variety of clothes and items from contemporary styles to high-end gifts. Catering to a larger pool of customers than just Auburn students, Donna and her team have expanded their clothing selection styles to suit women of all ages.

“Our store is maturing, and we are trying to make sure that downtown stays vibrant and we offer more reasons for non-students to come,” Donna said.

Donna is not simply a small-town business owner, but one of many talented local artists. She paints mixed media, abstracts, landscapes, and still lifes in her art studio and often hosts art shows at the Art Haus in Opelika. Sharing her talents with the city of Auburn, Donna showcases her work in her store where people can enjoy a pleasant shopping experience.

“The store is a store, but I feel like people have to come to the store and experience the artwork, and I think it makes shopping more of an experience and more fun,” Donna said. “Even if you're not buying something, I want it to be fun to come in, and take a look around, and see something different.”

Donna's artistic influence on Behind the Glass is unmistakable, with her creativity permeating every corner of the store. From original paintings and interesting light fixtures to thought-provoking quotes delicately suspended from the ceiling, her touch is evident. Additionally, her artistic expression shines brightly through the captivating Magnolia mural adorning the store's exterior – a work of art that took years to manifest.