It is the only lost luggage store in the United States, and might even be the only store of its kind in the world. Over one million people visit each year. Travelers have found this place from over 40 foreign countries.
What is the Unclaimed Baggage Center? A 40,000 square foot store in the tiny southern town of Scottsboro, Alabama. It’s where all of the airline luggage goes when it is unclaimed for 90 days or more. The airlines might get a bad reputation for losing luggage, but the fact is, they only lose less than half of one percent of the luggage they process. Much of this luggage is not actually lost, but merely unclaimed or forgotten.
Merchandise also comes from items passengers leave on the plane. Note to self: Always check the seat pocket before getting off a plane. People regularly leave valuable stuff in there! What makes the Unclaimed Baggage Center better than the average thrift store is that people weren’t trying to give this stuff away. It was lost. Many people buy new clothing and accessories for their travels. Speaking from experience, it only takes having your luggage lost or stolen once before you start packing for trips from your rag bag, and not with new purchases.
Passengers get off the plane and leave iPads and cameras. People lose engagement and wedding rings. There is even a formal wear department filled with wedding attire. Pity the bride who lost her dress on the way to a destination wedding, but kudos to the frugalista who knows you only wear it once, the memories are in the photos, and buying a wedding dress at the Unclaimed Baggage Center might mean a more luxurious honeymoon with the money saved.
Is it worth the visit? Well, that really depends on what you’re looking for. Big- ticket items are definitely the reason to make a trip to Scottsboro. Fine jewelry is appraised, then sold at 50% of the appraised price. (Do you care that someone wore that diamond ring before you? Who really needs to know?).
During my visit, the guitar collection was excellent, the jewelry selection plentiful, and there were enough laptops and Kindles for even the discriminating shopper. Bicycles and golf clubs get shipped and lost all the time.
Germaphobes, fear not. There is an extensive process for cleaning every item sold before it is put on the selling floor. Unclaimed Baggage actually owns the largest laundry and dry cleaning facility in the state of Alabama. Way to go Alabama. This gives new meaning to Roll Tide.
When I asked Pam, at the Unclaimed Baggage Center what she remembered being the most unusual item found in a piece of luggage, she told me that top of the list in her mind was not the 1934 french newspaper, suit of armour or shrunken head, but was actually, a live rattlesnake. That's one I would not like opening.
My purchases? A suitcase, two pairs of shoes (one brand new with the tags still on), three necklaces, two pairs of earrings, and some unmentionables. Yes, they do sell unmentionables, but only items that are clearly new and never worn. My tab? Less than $100. I wasn’t in the market for the finer things when I visited, but should I ever be looking for high end items, I would definitely consider a trip back to the Unclaimed Baggage Center.