The Unclaimed Baggage Center (UBC) is a gold mine, so to speak, in the discounted/thrift shopping world! The UBC is located in Scottsboro, Alabama.
Our family’s first experience with the store came in 2011 when we were headed to Huntsville, Alabama, for a visit to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. Ever since then, we have made a point to visit the UBC during each of our Huntsville trips.
This week, I will be visiting the UBC, and at some point, I will update you on the store and let you know what we find.
If you are not familiar with the UBC, you should be -- and you should also make a point to visit the “Land of Lost Luggage” anytime you are nearby. The Unclaimed Baggage Center was created in the early 1970s when Doyle Owens purchased his first truckload of unclaimed luggage. He sold the contents on tables in front of his house and realized a new business venture was in the works.
His son purchased the business in 1995, and what was once a few tables in front of a house is now an enormous facility that takes up a city block.
According to the UBC website, the airlines claim that 99.5 percent of the luggage they transport arrives at its intended location -- albeit during the three-month location process when it is lost initially. After the three-month location process, any unclaimed baggage is auctioned off -- and that is where the UBC comes in.
UBC purchases the baggage (without knowing what the contents are), and what results is a treasure hunt. I can imagine that for many of the workers at UBC, the thrill of opening the unknown keeps their jobs exciting. Any clothing items in very good condition are washed or dry cleaned and then hung for sale.
As an aside, according to the “Encyclopedia of Alabama” online, I have learned that the UBC has one of the largest laundry facilities in the entire state. Almost half of the inventory in the stores is, in fact, clothing.
Truthfully, our family has purchased clothing at the UBC but I would not say that clothing is the area in which we have saved the most. We have purchased an iPad, brand new swim goggles, books and even a pair of Converse high-top leather boots!
Any time we have visited the UBC there has been a crowd of people. The UBC claims that their guest book is signed by people from all 50 states during the course of each year. In addition, they have a really neat interactive map of the countries from which their guests have travelled.
We have never walked out of the UBC with bags and bags of items -- we try to shop carefully even when we are at a thrift store. However, the unique quality of the items we have picked up will continue to be part of the reason that we return to the Unclaimed Baggage Center in the future.
Have you ever visited the UBC? Did you know they have discovered items like a full suit of armor, a Limoges vase valued at $80,000, a coffin, and a camera from a space shuttle in different pieces of luggage? If you’ve been there, what is the most interesting item you have ever found at the UBC?
Contact writer Rachael Mercer at firstname.lastname@example.org.