Today, Behind the Glass Boutique is known for its versatile clothes and southern chic style. However, in 1987 when the store first opened.
Behind the Glass was known for much more — with sandwiches that attracted superstars. Donna Young opened Behind the Glass in the late 80s under two names: Behind the Glass and Terra.
At the time, Behind the Glass consisted of a restaurant and art gallery on the first floor of the building, featuring local artists, photographers and potters. Meanwhile, Terra was the boutique located upstairs.
“We were known for our cafe food, such as the turkey tetrazzini pasta, chicken croissant sandwich and a variety of soups and pastries,” said Chloe Floyd, Young’s daughter and current general manager at Behind the Glass.
Floyd is one of three children, with two older brothers. At 18 years old, Floyd became the store’s general manager for five years, all while working to receive her degree in apparel merchandising from Auburn. Yet, this was not the first time Floyd had joined her mother at the store. She said that even as a child, as young as five, she would help her mom wrap purchases for customers.
“Now I can gift wrap literally with my eyes closed,” Floyd said.
Floyd recalled ordering the chicken croissant sandwich with honey mustard when she visited the store as a child.
The spot was also incredibly popular among sorority sisters from Auburn, who frequented the location to buy their favorite local meal.
“Behind the Glass started as a cafe and the had the best chicken croissant,” said Beth Clendenen on a Facebook post in ‘What’s Happening in Auburn and Opelika’. “I used to go there all the time. It was my favorite lunch spot in the 90s.”
Legend has it that the chicken croissant was so delicious that REM made an appearance one night to try it. This has been confirmed by Floyd herself. The store drew the attention of the band, who stopped by after a show, with their eye-catching art gallery.
1998 marked the year that the café closed. When the food took leave, the space became a gift store. Slowly but surely, the store morphed into what it looks like today. In 2006, when the clothes came downstairs, the storefront officially rebranded itself as a clothing boutique under the singular name: Behind the Glass.
“[Today] we are known for our amazing customer service [and] wide selection of products for all ages from clothes to shoes, to gifts and accessories,” Floyd said.
After 33 years of retail success, Floyd said that the business could not have thrived if it had not been for its amazing staff. The staff have given “amazing customer service” over the years, as well as later becoming buyers who keep the managers informed on the latest trends, Floyd said.
“Donna, the founder, is a true visionary as far as visual merchandising, events and keeping the wide selection of products,” Floyd said.
According to the website, Behind the Glass’ goal is to sell merchandise “with an eye for items that allow women of all ages and backgrounds to be confident in their individual style and point of view.”
After three decades of experience, the storefront said it is not concerned with what is bought, but how it makes the buyer feel.
“We believe in the power of the perfect outfit to create confidence and empower,” its website reads.
Floyd said that one of the most rewarding experiences in the job is helping customers to look and feel their best after shopping at Behind the Glass. Additionally, she said they have enjoyed seeing each staff member “grow and blossom” in their various roles at the store. Yet, she also admits that there are lows that accompany the highs.
“It was very difficult March 2020 because we were very scared about Covid and decided to close during spring break, before it was required,” Floyd said. “We had to teach ourselves a lot of protocols during the beginning of the pandemic, but we couldn’t do it without our amazing staff and customers who wore masks for months and months.”
With vaccinations on the rise and cases on the decline, Behind the Glass had been able to rejoin some of its pre-COVID community engagements. This year, the store hosted Santa upstairs in its window — above Hamilton’s — where Terra was once located, and where Floyd said she would hang out when she was younger. The purpose of the event was to benefit the local Boys and Girls Club.
“It was such a joy to see the kids get their pictures taken and people waving to Santa from the corner,” Floyd said. “Every year we do a benefit for [the] Boys and Girls Club where 100% [of] our of proceeds go to benefit [the] Boys and Girls Club of Lee County. We are very proud to support such an amazing program.
Today, Floyd operates the business as the general manager, after returning from a four-year hiatus to Atlanta.
Young has stuck around as well, developing visual merchandising for the company. Behind the Glass is located at 168 E. Magnolia Ave. Hours for the store are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Behind the Glass can be contacted at 334-826-1133 for any further questions