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A World of Treasures in Alabama at Unclaimed Baggage Center

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The Unclaimed Baggage Center stocks more than 7,000 new items daily in large part to luggage that has been lost. You never know what’s in store.

Column with money Columns at Entrance to Unclaimed Baggage Center

Nestled in the beautiful foothills of the Appalachian Mountains lies a store with a world of treasures.  Literally.  The Unclaimed Baggage Center is located in Scottsboro, Alabama and stocks more than 7,000 new items daily, in large part to luggage that has been lost. 

Some of the merchandise that they carry is from lost cargo.  In case you were not aware, airlines have 90 days to locate the owner of a lost piece of luggage.  After that, it is bought by Unclaimed Baggage Center.

A wall of scarves at Unclaimed Baggage Center in Alabama

Once at Unclaimed Baggage Center, contents are sorted.   Clothing items that can be sold are dry cleaned.  Jewelry is appraised.  Electronic items have personal data erased and current software is installed.  Many employees have years of experience of pricing the items, which retail at UBC at 20-80% off of regular retail prices.

The Story of Unclaimed Baggage Center

In 1970, Doyle Owens borrowed $300 and a truck and headed to Washington, D.C. and made his first purchase of unclaimed baggage from Trailways bus lines.  A month later he quit his insurance job to become the “bag man” on a full-time basis.

The business was run by Doyle, his wife, and two sons for the next forty years.  In 1995, his son purchased the business from him.

Over the years Unclaimed Baggage Center has expanded so that it now encompasses an entire city block in Scottsboro, Alabama.  It has been featured on news outlets over the years and written about in books.

Some of the finds at the center include a full suite of armor made in the 19th century, a 5.7-carat diamond ring, a live rattlesnake, and a set of bagpipes.

Unclaimed Baggage Center operates the largest dry cleaning facility in the state of Alabama.  They are also one of the largest donors to the Lions Club in the World, having donated hundreds of thousands of pairs of glasses over the years.

rings

leopard high heel shoes

Sunglasses

books in foreign languagesBooks in Foreign Languages

The Baggage Experience

Want to see what it is like to unpack a suitcase that has been lost?  Be sure to sign up when you arrive for your chance.  A lucky visitor will be chosen to do just that. 

Aside from the original owner of the luggage, only one other person has seen what was inside – that is to ensure that there are not any unwelcome surprises (remember that rattlesnake mentioned earlier?).

The lucky person will wear a smock and gloves for protection and will get to go through the bag.  On my recent trip, Katy from Katy Did Country was chosen.  The suitcase that she unpacked had treasures from Russia.  Inside were three Matryoshka (nesting) dolls. 

There were also souvenir Matryoshka keychains that the original owner was sure to give to her friends and/or loved ones.  (We feel certain it was a “she” because of other contents in the suitcase.)  There was even a Russian Phrases For Dummies book in the bag.

Russian nesting dolls that look like football players

Some Other-Worldly Treasures Found at Unclaimed Baggage Center

1934 French newspaper
1934 French Newspaper found at UBC in 1998

Interesting items at Unclaimed Baggage Center in Alabama - This is where unclaimed baggage ends up.

My Recent UBC Finds/Purchases

While shopping at UBC, I found a beautiful black leather Michael Kors purse that cost $99.  From what I have been able to tell online, it would normally retail for around $328.  The purse is in fabulous condition – it looks like it has not been used.

I also was able to get a Harry Potter book (Harry Potter und der Gefangene von Askaban (Buch 3) (German Edition)- in German, as well as Nicholas Sparks The Lucky One in Portuguese.  Price of these two books?  $1.00 each.  It is so hard to find books in a foreign language, unless, of course, you are at Unclaimed Baggage Center.  

I also got a painting for under $7.  It looks like an original aboriginal piece, though I might be hoping for a little too much.  I like it nonetheless.

Plan Your Trip

Address:  509 West Willow Street, Scottsboro, Alabama  35768

The hours of the Unclaimed Baggage Center are:
Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Saturdays 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Closed on Sundays

Does shopping make you hungry like it does me?  There is an onsite cafe, Cups Cafe, which serves lunch Monday – Friday from 10:00 – 3:00, and on Saturday 10:00 – 4:00.

Lunch at the Unclaimed Baggage Center

Can’t make it to the Unclaimed Baggage Center?

No worries.  The Unclaimed Baggage Center now offers you the opportunity to shop from home!  That’s right – you can shop from their Weird and Wonderful Finds, Apparel, Accessories, Electronics, and so much more.  What’s cool is that you can see how much money you are saving over the estimated retail price. 


I’d like to thank Unclaimed Baggage Center for inviting me to their first Getaway Day for Bloggers.  For the record, it was not my first and won’t be my last visit to UBC.  I enjoyed the day with a few of my blogging buddies – Katy, Katie, Stephanie, and Myra.

You can connect with Unclaimed Baggage Center – Website | Facebook | Twitter

Have you ever lost your luggage or do you have tips on how to ensure that your bags get back to you?

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Zaahirah

Friday 28th of November 2014

This looks amazing. I love secondhand and thrift stores because it's an amazing thing to imagine the lives of the people who used to own those goods. This really takes it one step further!

Kirsten

Wednesday 26th of November 2014

I had NO idea this place even existed. How cool!!!

Amanda

Monday 24th of November 2014

This place is still on my list to visit! Seems like a fun and exciting day :)

Megan {Country Cleaver}

Saturday 22nd of November 2014

How fun!!! I would love to see the UBC someday!!

Lindsay

Tuesday 18th of November 2014

This is so cool and CRAZY! Who doesn't claim their luggage? Apparently a lot of people. Kind of an exciting job to go through the unclaimed bags. I love that they donate glasses to the Lions Club. I've never heard of this before. What a neat post!