- Location: Scottsboro, AL
- Website: unclaimedbaggage.com
May you never lose your luggage. Those of us who have lived through the experience know... [shudder]. Yet, if your next escape lands you near the Appalachian Mountains, you might just benefit from the misfortune of others.
Unclaimed Baggage Center (UBC) in Scottsboro, Alabama, began 34 years ago as a part-time operation but has since exploded into a full-time bargain hunter's paradise. UBC is a thrift store and tourist attraction because instead of consisting of donations, their stock comes from lost or abandoned luggage. Over a million items pass through UBC annually, with about 60% being clothing. But they also receive electronics, books, artwork, even rugs, and then offer them to the public at discounts of 20-50%. To see a list of the most outrageous things they've encountered (such as a LIVE rattlesnake or a 40.95-carat raw emerald), click on the link labeled Interesting Stuff.
If you're mourning the loss of your own belongings, UBC asks that you not contact them to find your stuff. The cargo comes to them anonymously and at least 120 days after the travel date. They insist that when a bag reaches them, "every effort has been made by the airlines to find the rightful owners." Although it might seem like a conflict of interest, UBC is a helpful bunch. Their website offers Travel Tips that will help you and your luggage get home safely. But, sadly, they don't have an online store so you must plan a road trip to UBC if you want to snap up someone else's souvenirs.