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Unclaimed baggage and bargain hunting

Have you ever wondered where all the lost luggage goes if the airline can’t find the owner? It looks like a big chunk of it ends up in Scottsboro, Alabama — specifically at the Unclaimed Baggage Center — a huge facility covering area more than a size of a city block.

Merchandise is brought to the warehouse as often as 10-20 times a day — trucks of baggage get unloaded, sorted out, cleaned, washed, and sold from the shelves. Over one million items pass through the store annually with most of them being clothes, electronics, sporting goods, jewelry and of course suitcases. You can find absolutely anything over there.

Back in the eighties we got a well-traveled Gucci suitcase that was packed with artifacts that dated back to 1500 B.C. And once we found a guidance system for an F-16 fighter jet, in a shockproof case from the Department of the U.S. Navy. It was labeled ‘Handle With Extreme Caution—I Am Worth My Weight in Gold.’” The UBC sent that one back.

It was Bryan Owens, the owner and son of the man who started the business in 1970 with a rented old house, a borrowed old truck, and a $300 loan. Today thousands of people from all over the United States and other countries come to visit the place every day.

The company has an online shop that you can use to buy things however the merchandise descriptions are sketchy and the pictures are often not of the actual items for sale. I would certainly think twice before buying that previously owned Hitachi DVD Camcorder for $262.50 online. However the prices seem to be very reasonable and if buying used stuff doesn’t scare you off and you happen to be in the area then visiting the store should sound like a no-brainer. Here is a quote from the UBC home page:

If searching for bargains is your passion and the thrill of discovering a one-of-a-kind treasure makes your heart race, come on a shoping adventrue like no other on earth!

Yes, yes, and yes. I am packing my suitcases and see you back in a week. :-)




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