North of Birmingham, West of Atlanta and South of Chattanooga is where you will find the most unique shopping destination: the Unclaimed Baggage Center, where lost suitcases finally settle to have their contents reappraised, cleaned, repriced for display. With over a shoppers that annually visit, it’s a must not miss extravaganza.
The store was founded in 1970 by Doyle Owens, when he borrowed a pickup truck and $300 to head for Washington, D.C., where he purchased unclaimed bags from the bus industry. The selling started on top of card tables from his home, growing into the opening of a store that today is more than 40,000 square feet and occupies a city block.
The finds are cultivated from airlines, bus lines and train carriers from unclaimed baggage and cargo. Doyle Owens’ son, Bryan, purchased the business in 1995 and made getting national media attention for the store a priority. Everyone from“The Today Show” to Oprah have featured the store on their shows. The store itself is much like a typical suitcase with clothes, shoes and jewelry taking centerstage. A significant choosing of books, plenty of eyewear and large selection of electronics and sporting goods are highlighted.
There are items you wouldn’t expect to find like a suit of armor, a mummified falcon and a Jim Henson puppet-goblin from the cult film Labyrinth. And the bling found will blow your mind: a 5.8-carat diamond set in a platinum band that was found packed in a sock, a 40.95-carat natural emerald and a platinum Rolex valued at over $64,000.
According to the Unclaimed Baggage Center website, about 5% of unclaimed bags are reclaimed. The airlines pay the lost claims and then sell those bags to the center. The lost bags arrive by tractor-trailer to the processing facility to be sorted and priced. All clothing is dry-cleaned and laundered at their in-house facility, the largest in Alabama. Fine jewelry is cleaned and appraised.
Electronic equipment is tested and cleared of personal data. The best stuff gets onto the retail floor with remaining items being donated through their Reclaimed for Good program, helping people around the world.
It’s not just about shopping. It’s a wonderful experience from the Guest Services to the Starbucks cafe to the smiling, helpful associates. You can reserve a personal shopper, a ninety-minute session with one of their professional style advisors to build your profile and help you shop the best of all
the clothing and accessories. There is custom shipping that will take the hassle out of getting those fancy finds home. They even have a plan for the furry ones who can be cared for while you shop at Cutie Petooties for $10 a day, located only five minutes away. Most fun is that daily you can join in the action with the Baggage Experience. At 2:30 each day, a shopper is chosen to experience opening an unprocessed bag; you never know what you might find! The Unclaimed Baggage Center is located in Scottsboro, Alabama, a picturesque town nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains on the banks of the Tennessee River. It is the perfect road trip break. Enjoy the shopping experience, and then head an hour south to Huntsville to check out the U.S. Space and Rocket Center or north to experience all the fun of Chattanooga. The final home of lost luggage in the middle of the best road trip route all the year-round!
Monday-Friday: 9:00 – 6:00 CT
Saturday: 8:00 – 7:00 CT
Closed Sundays, Thanksgiving and Christmas
509 W. Willow Street
Scottsboro, Alabama 35768