Did you know? Every lost suitcase in America ends up here
Credit: Unclaimed Baggage Center.

Did you know? Every lost suitcase in America ends up here

SCOTTSBORO, ALABAMA — If you’ve ever lost your luggage while travelling to the U.S., chances are it ended up in Scottsboro, Alabama.

According to Thrillist, a 40,000 square-foot ‘superstore’ located 45 minutes east of Huntsville is where unclaimed lost luggage and all its contents go to be resold. “Part lost-and-found, part thrift store,” the Unclaimed Baggage Center (UBC) takes every lost suitcase in America, sifts through it and puts the best items on its shelves, all at 20-80% off retail.

The Center was first built in 1970 by Doyle Owens, who got the idea to purchase unclaimed bags from a local bus station and sell the contents a couple days a week. The business eventually grew to include airlines, and 46 years later the store is now stocking millions of items lost on flights.

Unclaimed Baggage Center

Unclaimed Baggage Center

Unclaimed Baggage Center   Unclaimed Baggage Center

How are airlines allowing this to happen, you ask? It’s important to note that lost luggage in the U.S. is actually uncommon, with only one-half of 1% of checked bags failing to make it to baggage claim. Of this total, approximately 85% are returned within 48 hours, jumping to 98% after a week. After that, airlines spend 90 days trying to match lost bags with their owners.

If the bags are not claimed after 90 days, they legally belong to the airlines. At this point, the Unclaimed Baggage Center, which has an exclusive agreement with the airlines, retrieves all these unclaimed bags, including unclaimed cargo.

A spokesperson reassured Thrillist that airlines aren’t profiting much from the deal. The fee that UBC pays for the bags is enough to offset the cost of its lost baggage operations.

Once the bags get to the store, a third gets recycled, a third is donated to charity, and another third gets restocked on shelves. The store stocks approximately 7,000 items a day. Items include everything from nail clippers and wedding dresses to jewelry, artwork and electronics. But rest assured, all employees go through Department of Defense protocol to wipe out the memories from all electronic devices.

So if you’re in the market for a really cheap MacBook or, even, an engagement ring, head on down to Scottsboro where someone else’s lost treasures can be yours for a steal.

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