The Alabama Store That Sells All Our Unclaimed Bags
Airlines have a surprisingly good track record of not losing luggage, with less than 1% of bags being lost. There is always a slight feeling of anxiety, though, that a bag won’t make it to its intended destination. If the worst-case scenario does come true, though, there is a chance that someone in Alabama is making money off your stuff.
Yes, there is a store in the small town of Scottsboro, Alabama called Unclaimed Baggage, and as the name implies, they sell items from, well, unclaimed baggage. This results in a massive operation with a 50,000 square foot physical storefront and an online shop. Unclaimed Baggage has sold wares from lost luggage for more than 50 years.
They aren’t bad guys stealing suitcases, though. Instead, luggage gets to Unclaimed Baggage after a three-month process. When an airline has an unclaimed bag, they spend 90 days searching for its owner. This process is usually successful, which is why less than one percent of bags are “lost.” If the three months pass and there is no success, then the shop in Scottsboro comes in. They have a deal with most major airlines to purchase unclaimed luggage.
Once bags get to Alabama (hopefully not getting lost again during the trip), they go through a thorough inspection and cleaning process at Unclaimed Baggage. Personal information is destroyed, and clothing is washed at their cleaning facility. Out of the items that wind up at Unclaimed Baggage, they sell about a third of them.
Browsing their online store shows that this is not just a small-time thrift store operation either. They have name-brand clothing, Nintendo Switch consoles, iPhones, and jewelry. Some of their items still have tags, likely the lost remnants of someone’s vacation shopping spree. They also have a section on their website dedicated to unusual items they have found, like this “Primitive Wooden Spoon” that must have been in the luggage of a traveling caveman.
The things that they don’t sell aren’t wasted, either. Unclaimed Baggage has partnerships with charity organizations to donate items like eyeglasses, wheelchairs, and clothing to people in need. They claim that roughly one item is donated for every item sold.
If you are ever unlucky enough to be the victim of a completely lost bag, take solace in knowing that there is a chance that your stuff found a home with someone who needs it. Or maybe someone in Alabama just sold it. It could go either way.
Top Image: SpencerWing/Pixabay