This Is Where All The Unclaimed Luggage Actually Ends Up

The cat is finally out of the bag.

If you run into someone wearing your favorite jacket, the one you lost months ago while on vocation, there's no need to be too shocked. Chances are, that the person simply bought it at Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, a small town in Alabama.

At first glance, Unclaimed Baggage Center looks like any other another mall — piles of winter jackets, handbags and even golf clubs. But don't be mistaken. Every single item here used to belong to someone, was lost when traveling and never got claimed.

Unclaimed Baggage Center purchases unclaimed luggage from commercial airlines and other transportation venues and resells them at their store in Alabama.

Their website describes their business like this:

"If it's packed in a suitcase or left on a plane, it could wind up for sale at Unclaimed Baggage. We sell a wide variety of items commonly taken on business trips and vacations such as clothes, cameras, jewelry, electronics and golf clubs. You never know what people may pack, so you could be one of the lucky shoppers to scoop up an African mask, vacuum-packed frogs, or even a snowboard."

We second that. You literally never know what people might pack. Or you might find.

"Alex ran across this autographed poster from his favorite series, Fight Club, and couldn't turn it down."

Every single day the store adds 7,000 new items to their stock. This number sounds impossibly high. But statistics show that 17 percent of all luggage handled by airlines around the world is lost, damaged or delayed, which in 2013 alone accounted for almost 22 million pieces of luggage. In fact, 3 percent out of all mishandled bags are either declared lost or stolen. Add to that all the items forgotten on buses, trains or rental cars and you get a pretty good idea of how Unclaimed Baggage Center is able to offer so much merchandise.

The story of Unclaimed Baggage Center started more than 40 years ago, when Doyle Owens borrowed $300 and a pick-up truck to buy and haul a single load of unclaimed baggage. The business took off from there. He ran it with his wife Sue for years, until their son Bryan took it over in 1995.

Today, the store claims to be "one of Alabama's top tourist attractions hosting over a million visitors a year from every state and over 40 foreign countries."

Perhaps something to add to your list of places to visit while in Alabama? You might see something you like — or used to own.

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Cover image via Flickr.

(H/T: Figaro)