What Really Happens to your Lost Luggage?
Welcome to the land of lost luggage, Unclaimed Baggage in Scottsboro Alabama!
Welcoming over 1 million guests a year and being one of Alabama's top tourist attractions, Unclaimed Baggage is certainly a 'hidden gem' worth exploring, especially if you've always been curious about just what happens to all those lost bags!
Here's the scoop: Approximately 0.5% of bags at the airport go unclaimed. Airlines take these bags and follow a thorough 90-day tracing process, and unfortunately, a portion of these are still considered to be lost or unclaimed. So what happens to them? They are auctioned off to people like the Owens' family, who have 45 years of experience buying, sorting, cleaning, and selling all these lost treasures.
It all started in 1970 when Doyle Owens headed to Washington D.C with a borrowed pickup truck and a $300 loan. He bought unclaimed baggage and sold the usable contents on card tables in an old rented house. It was a huge success, and his wife Sue and two sons quickly got involved, the whole family taking part in over 4 decades of unclaimed baggage sales.
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Owens built relationships with airlines and other modes of transportation, and quickly his business gained global attention. Today it is the only lost luggage store in the US, a highly successful business run by Owens' son, Bryan.
Unclaimed Baggage sees over 7,000 new items daily, getting the goods from airlines, trains, buses, and the like. The store is a whopping 40,000 square feet or a whole city block.
Once a truck of goods is unloaded at the store, the products are sorted, priced, and cleaned. Clothing items are dry cleaned/laundered, the business laundering over 50,000 items a month. Jewelry is cleaned and appraised, and electronics are tested and cleared of personal data.
Sort. Price. Clean. Sell.
Fun Fact: If items cannot be sold here, they are 'Reclaimed For Good', as their program is titled, and repurposed for charity. Millions of dollars of goods are donated, from clothes to the need to medical supplies and technology to developing countries. If the items aren't fit for charity, they are simply trashed.
Inside the store, you will find so many interesting items, the store broken up into the following departments: Men's Women's Jewelry, Children's, Formal Wear, Foot Wear, Sporting Goods, Electronics/Cameras, Luggage, and Books. Find a new outfit, some fashionable accessories, or maybe a tablet!
Unclaimed Baggage has also found some seriously odd things in their time, some of the most memorable being. . .
- A live rattlesnake
- A shrunken head
- 50 vacuum-packed frogs
- Versace Gown
- $60,000 Platinum Rolex
- NASA camera
You're probably gonna work up an appetite exploring all the goodies around the store, and thankfully you can fix that at Cups Cafe. They serve Starbucks Coffee, Dippin' Dots Ice Cream, and Barry's Backcountry BBQ, plus some really tasty salads!
Right next door to Unclaimed Baggage you will find the Etc Store, the 'little store with big bargains'. It supports an additional 3 floors of goods, including 4,000 square feet exclusively meant for children's goods. They roll out new items/deals hourly here, so be sure you stop by!