Love a good bargain? Who doesn’t? Then know there’s no better place to find bargains than at Unclaimed Baggage in Scottsboro, just 40 miles from Huntsville, Alabama.
It’s a treasure hunt. You never know what to expect.
With over 7,000 new items being added every single day, those words ring true. And if you have ever wondered where your lost baggage ends up, it’s right there in Scottsboro, and you can even buy it back if you want to!
The store began back in 1970 when Doyle Owens, who originally sold insurance, was given a couple of unclaimed suitcases by one of the airlines. Expecting them to sell eventually, he was surprised to find all the items were gone in just one day. He knew straight away that he was on to something. That “something” is now the only unclaimed baggage store in the country and it gets 1 million visitors every year. It receives unclaimed baggage and freight from airlines and bus companies.
It’s not that the companies don’t try to match the luggage with its owners. They do. But after 90 days, after which 99 percent does get reunited, they give up. The passengers have usually been compensated by then. The Unclaimed Baggage Center then purchases the bags, sight unseen, and brings them to the outlet in Scottsboro.
The items are then sorted out and laundered. Books, designer clothes, electronics, kitchen items and of course, luggage are just some of them. It’s not unusual for them to get 40,000 items in a slow month.
Items are then given to a team of pricers who will mark them down 20-80% off the original price. The 40,000 square foot store, which covers a city block, sells approximately a third of the items it receives, donates another third and throws around a third away because those items are inappropriate for a family store.
One large donation the store makes is the 16,000 pairs of eyeglasses it gives to the Lions Club every year — that’s about one percent of all the donations that club receives annually.
Once a year on the first Saturday in November, there is a snow and ski equipment sale, just right for the upcoming ski season.
But some items just seem to want to spend a lot of time at the store. It’s not the first time a lost item has been sold and has found its way right back again, having been lost a second time.
The staff recognize their own tags when the items get lost and come back to the store again. They have no way of knowing who the second owner was and they just hope that with the next sale, the item stays with its new buyer!
“One of the country’s best kept shopping secrets,” says Oprah Winfrey, about store. And it is. People traveling south often make it a regular stop on their visits to the southern sun. And it’s no wonder. There are great bargains to be had.
Find it online at www. unclaimedbaggage.com.
Other things to visit in the area include: the Old State Bank, Little River Canyon National Preserve (deepest canyon east of the Mississippi), DeSoto Falls, U.S. Space & Rocket Center, and the Cathedral Caverns State Park in Grant.
Sheila OConnor loves traveling around the world. So far she hasn’t lost any bags but knows where to look for them if she ever does.
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