The name speaks for itself: Unclaimed Baggage Center. This retail store in Scottsboro, Alabama, is the only place in the U.S. that buys and resells unclaimed luggage from the airline industry.
If you're like me, you might wonder how this could be possible. Who would ever let their luggage go unclaimed? Well, it turns out there are a lot more cases of this happening than you may realize. If you've ever lost your luggage, you can relate to the frustration.
Brenda Cantrell, brand ambassador at Unclaimed Baggage Center, noted that "Most bags are returned within five days of the travel date, but the airlines spend up to 90 days (after) trying to reunite bags with their owners and over 99.9 percent of the time they're successful." Keep in mind this is for checked baggage that's traceable through a computer system.
This means only a small fraction of one percent of items go completely unclaimed. For the Unclaimed Baggage center, however, this means upwards of 7,000 items a day end up being received and sorted through at their off-site facility.
Most of the electronics found at the Unclaimed Baggage Center are carry-on items such as cell phones, laptops and headphones.
The Unclaimed Baggage Center is one of Alabama's top tourist attractions. The store sees nearly 1 million visitors a year, from all 50 states and 40 to 50 foreign countries.
"You know when you come to our store, the clothes are going to be clean, that's important."
Sell it. Clean it. Give it away. Trash it.
This is how the center runs its full-scale in-house operation. There is an off-site location where the items are received and go through a sorting process. All jewelry is cleaned and refurbished, electronics are thoroughly tested, and clothes are professionally cleaned.
The center houses one of the largest laundry and dry-cleaning facilities in the state. It washes or dry-cleans more than 20,000 items per day. "You know when you come to our store, the clothes are going to be clean -- that's important," Cantrell said.
Reclaimed for Good
"Through relationships with dozens of charity organizations locally, nationally and around the globe, Unclaimed Baggage Center is able to find uses for more than half of the merchandise not designated for the retail floor."
Not everything that comes through the facility goes up for sale on the retail floor. More than a quarter of the items the center receives end up being donated or repurposed for people in need.
The Unclaimed Baggage Center is certainly one of a kind. There are rarely two of the same item available, and unfortunately, you cannot shop for anything online. The best way to have your own unique experience is to visit the store. "You have to come to Alabama," Cantrell said. "Believe it or not, you're going to be in the Southeast at some point more than likely in your life."
Follow @UnclaimedBag on Instagram and visit Unclaimedbaggage.com for more information.
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