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You Never Know What You Will Find in “The Land of Lost Luggages”

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Doyle Owens filled a pick-up truck with his first purchase of unclaimed baggage from a Washington D.C. bus line in 1970. With a borrowed pick up truck and a $300 loan, second-generation entrepreneur Doyle Owens, heads out to Washington, DC to purchase his first load of unclaimed baggage from Trailways bus lines. Selling the contents on card tables in an old rented house, it doesn’t take long for Doyle to realize his idea is a winner. Within a month he leaves his insurance job to become the “bag man” full-time.

We are talking about “Unclaimed Baggage Center(UBC)“. The store’s concept of reselling of lost or unclaimed airline luggage.they sells it to consumers at a considerable discount (anywhere from 20-80% off retail).

Starting from that first load of unclaimed luggage, the company, run by Doyle, his wife Sue, and their two boys, grew into a thriving business over the next forty years.

Relationships with airline and other transportation companies across the country were forged. Regional magazines and newspapers began featuring the ‘land of lost luggage’.

Twenty-five years after displaying his first batch of unclaimed inventory on card tables in a rented home, Doyle passed the baton. His oldest son, Bryan, purchased the business in 1995 and Unclaimed Baggage Center experienced another surge of growth.

The store was remodeled, expanded and organized to display the inventory. With the addition of unclaimed cargo, UBC soared to new heights.

Exposure on national TV networks gave Unclaimed Baggage Center access to adventurous shoppers nationwide who flocked to Scottsboro.

Catering to the curious as well as a loyal following of treasure hunters, this one-of-a-kind store has become a must-see attraction in Alabama.

Over a million customers visit the 50,000-square-foot (4,600 m2) store each year to browse through some of the 7,000 items added each day.


How The Processes of Unclaimed Baggage Center?

A whopping 99.5% of domestic airlines’ checked bags are picked up by their owners at the baggage carousel. Roughly ½ of 1% don’t arrive with the passengers. Five days later, an impressive 95% of those delayed bags find their way home. That’s a great track record considering the 100’s of millions of flights and passengers that criss-cross the country and the globe every day.

An intense 3-month search process reunites over half of the remaining bags with the happy passengers. Claims are paid to the astonishingly small fraction of a percent of owners whose bags are never found.

Only after these exhaustive attempts to reunite the luggage with the owners do the airlines call in the crew from Unclaimed Baggage Center.

Unclaimed Baggage Center is under contract with airlines and other transportation companies to purchase the luggage that can’t be traced to the owners. Truckloads of lost luggage are transported to Scottsboro, Alabama, sight unseen.

After its long journey, the unclaimed luggage arrives dirty, in great disarray, and often damaged. Their experienced staff carefully unpacks each bag, wearing protective gloves.

The items go through a complex sorting process. The clothes headed for the store go to their own dry cleaner and laundry facility – the largest commercial dry cleaner in the state of Alabama. Fine jewelry is cleaned and appraised. Meanwhile our technicians test all electronic equipment, erasing any personal data.

Finally their experts, many with 10, 15 or even 25 years of pricing experience, research and price each individual item.

By the time merchandise is wheeled onto the sales floor, the clothes and products are in new or nearly-new condition, ready to be snapped up by savvy shoppers.

Some of the bought-in-bulk load not going to the retail floor is “voted off the island.” These items should never have been packed into suitcases in the first place. They’ve learned over the years that some people will pack anything that fits in a bag – alive, dead, stinky or illegal.

Over half of these leftover items, however, are “reclaimed for good.” Their numerous charity partners repurpose merchandise to meet needs all over the world.

In short, they sell, donate, recycle and repurpose everything they can. Bags and boxes that arrive at UBC filled with a wide variety of items have a second shot at being worn, played, read, or shared.

Then pack your own bag and make your way to the corner of Unclaimed Baggage Boulevard and Lost Luggage Lane in Scottsboro, Alabama.

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