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A spirit that is not afraid

Auburn-Opelika metro area continues expansion, records 1.9 percent growth

Despite the national economic turmoil, the Auburn-Opelika metro area has remained relatively stable and has even experienced a notable growth in population.

In a list put out by the Census Bureau, the Auburn-Opelika area ranked 54th in the 2007-2008 top 100 fastest-growing metro areas with a 1.9 percent growth.

Three local businesses in particular -- Behind the Glass, Niffer's Place and Marble Slab Creamery\0xAD -- have all reported little-to-no decrease in sales.

Chloe Popwell, general manager of the Auburn boutique Behind the Glass, said the economy has slightly affected sales in her store.

"It's not great or the best year we've ever had, but some months are good, some months are bad," Popwell said. "We're not nose-diving by any means like some retail stores."

Popwell said advertising and ordering more inexpensive clothing of the same quality as the more expensive lines of clothing are two things the store is doing to try and bring in even more sales. She also said she believes the store's location in a college town has helped.

"I don't think people's parents are giving them less money," Popwell said. "I feel like Alabama has felt the recession, but Auburn is still kind of in a bubble."

Marble Slab Creamery, located in Tiger Town, was recently named Small Business of the Quarter by the Opelika Chamber of Commerce.

Owner Terri Meek said there has been no effect on ice cream sales.

"I haven't seen a drop in sales at all," Meeks said. "I think it could be because a lot of families are eating at home more and then having ice cream as a treat."

Niffer's Place has actually seen an increase in business.

"We're up just a little bit in numbers from last year," said Patrick Payne, general manager of Niffer's Place. "It is times like these that our philosophy is if we take care of things in our four walls, we can't affect what's going on outside of us."

Payne said he thinks being a restaurant in a college town and having a solid reputation could have something to do with the restaurant's continued success even through such a difficult time.

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