Scottsboro, Alabama seems like the most unlikely place in which to find lost luggage.
But this small town in the northern Alabama foothills is, apparently, thanks to the vision of an astute local businessman, the ‘lost luggage capital of the world’.
In Scottsboro you can find the Unclaimed Baggage Center (UBC), a 40,000 square foot warehouse stocked with the contents of the lost suitcases, bags, and boxes of unlucky travelers.
Back in 1970 by Doyle Owens made a deal with Trailways, a national bus company, to remove the lost and unclaimed luggage. Picking it up from the Washington DC terminal, Owens carted it home to Scottsboro and set up store in an old rented house. It was a hit and soon Owens was expanding his premises and also collecting lost luggage from many domestic airlines as well.
Today, with over 7,00 new items (ranging from clothes to sporting gear, books, and electronic gadgets) appearing in the shelves each day, the UBC is paradise for bargain hunters.
But it’s more than just another shop. It’s also evolved into a tourist attraction, complete with a Lost Luggage Hall of Fame museum. The mini museum came into being when the UBC owners decided to put some of the stranger lost luggage items on permanent display. After all, it’s not every day someone packs and then losses a Jim Henson puppet-goblet or a 10 foot long Tibetan musical horn.
Mostly, though, the items that arrive at the Unclaimed Baggage Center are your ordinary, everyday things such as clothing, books, and electronic gadgets.
There are racks and racks of outwear and underwear, even, sadly, a rack or two of wedding gowns, the history of which we will never know. Cabinets and glass cases are loaded down with jewelry (some real and some bling), computers, cameras, iPods, and iPads.
Offering bargain goods for bargain prices, the Unclaimed Baggage Center has become a road-trip destination for shoppers from all over.
(Image by jczar via flickr)