While Scottsboro, Alabama may not immediately jump out as an interesting or exotic travel destination to many it is home to resale shop, of sorts, that gets all its product from the travel industry. The Unclaimed Baggage Center offers shoppers a unique experience in buying gently used items.
It works like this – after a 90 day period in which airlines attempt to reunite passengers with their wayward luggage it gets sold to the Unclaimed Baggage Center who has a contract with most of the major airlines. In fact, they buy lost luggage in bulk and sight unseen. After the sorting process all desirable clothes are dry-cleaned, jewelry is appraised and cleaned and electronics are cleared of personal data before making it to the sales floor. Anything that isn’t thrown away is cleaned and prepped to be donated through their Reclaimed for Good program which helps people around the world.
The major attraction, of course, are high dollar items that Unclaimed Baggage Center sells for a fraction of the cost.
The business idea was the brain child of Doyle Owens. In 1970 Owens set out towards Washington D.C. with only an idea, a borrowed truck and $300 dollar loan to acquire his first load of unclaimed baggage. He rented an old house for and simply set out the items on card tables. People loved it. The idea was an overnight success. This family business was run by Owens, wife Sue and their two sons. And eventually grew into the only lost luggage store in the United States. Today the business is run by son, Bryan who bought the business in 1995.
Over forty years of operation the business developed relationships with airlines and other transportation companies. At first the store only received attention in regional media, however, as word spread about the unusual store whose stock included high-dollar and exotic items from around the world, Unclaimed Baggage Center made a national name for itself.
The store attracts about one million visitors a year from all of the United States and many foreign countries.