I recently passed a Delta baggage claim area at BWI that was
loaded with lonely bags. You could tell it was a holding place for unclaimed luggage, and I observed a few travelers
hopefully searching for their missing black bag among a sea of thousands. What amazes me, though, is that many of these
suitcases, for one reason or another, never reunite with their owners. Instead, the valuables inside often wind up in
the hands of new owners, especially if they find their way to Scottsboro, Alabama, home of the
Unclaimed Baggage Center.
Founded in 1970 by Doyle and Sue Owens, the UBC has established itself as a great hidden
bargain shopping heaven. It was started as a small part-time business, but now operates a
retail operation and
store, and manages the movement of over one million items annually. About 60% of the merchandise is clothing with
the balance dedicated to cameras, electronics, sporting goods, jewelry, designer optical, books and luggage. The vast
majority of items are from unclaimed baggage which, after at least 90 days of intensive tracking by the airlines, are
declared unclaimed. Unclaimed baggage items are usually priced at 50% to 80% off retail because they are
typically used items. Unclaimed
cargo is also now available, but is mostly new and many times in the original package; it is usually priced
at 20% to 50% off retail.
The Unclaimed Baggage Center holds occasional seasonal events, like their annual
ski sale, to be held this year on November 5. Their website has fun features which highlight
unique items for sale. You can view an actual
receipt of a recent shopper and review lists of other
interesting stuff that has turned up at the
warehouse. I love that they also include travel tips on how
to keep your bags safe when traveling. Even though the UBC reaps the benefits of lost luggage, they are willing to
share their expertise on how to keep it from happening – excellent customer service!