If You Ever Wanted Know Where Your Lost Luggage Ends Up, It’s Scottsboro, Alabama!


If You Ever Wanted Know Where Your Lost Luggage Ends Up, It’s Scottsboro, Alabama!

This is the second in a series of infrequent articles that will spotlight Hidden Treasures within a city that are usually overlooked by the locals….but they’re not the only ones. We will be searching for some of the best little-known secrets from every city imaginable. Lean closer and tell me what’s special about yours…….

Peeking through the trees to check out Lake Guntersville.

Peeking through the trees to check out Lake Guntersville.

Mapquest says it’s a two hour forty-five minute drive from my house and I think that they were right on the money. We woke up on a Saturday at 5 am to make our way to Scottsboro, Alabama so that we would get there right at 9 am.  I didn’t know that we would be going through so many two lane country roads, an interstate and a lot of four-lane highways, but we did. I guess the drive always seems longer if you’ve never been there and is always shorter on the way back because all you’d have to do is work your way backward. The drive was as beautiful as it was long. We got to see landscapes untouched by human hands. There were fields of crops, houses were spaced acres in between, and we saw every type of animal you’d expect to see in the country: Goats, cows, donkeys and even alpacas! I had no idea that this road would turn out to be the site of the “Trail of Tears”.

The Trail of Tears is the pathway that native Americans were forced to take after the US Government stole their land. Many died of disease and exposure along the way.

It was an unexpected, yet sobering moment that we paused to give quiet reverence for the discovery.   We missed a turn that we realized 10 miles down the road but managed to get right back on track.  We were excited, we’d wanted to visit this place for more than 10 years and never got around to it.  I’ve always loved yard sales, flea markets, tag sales…it’s something about discovering something extremely valuable that you can buy for a song.  I’m sure that’s why I love Antiques Roadshow too.  Eventually, we saw it. In all of its beige, orange and mint greened glory….The Unclaimed Baggage Center.

It’s larger than a city block and contains some of the world’s best deals

What is the Unclaimed Baggage Center?

Founded in 1971, the UBC sells items that are acquired from airlines after 90 days of trying to locate the rightful owner.   That’s right.  If you lose something while you are at the airport or during a flight and for whatever reason, you can’t be located, it goes to the UBC for resale.  As you can imagine, people lose all kinds of things; from luggage, to make up bags, to briefcases, to iPods, headphones, clothing, etc.  These are precisely the types of things that you will find at the UBC.   Additionally, you will find unclaimed cargo there from lost freight shipments.  Over the years, they have found some really cool items like a 41 karat natural gemstone, a barbie doll stuffed with $500 bills and Egyptian artifacts dating back to 1500 B.C.

I’m still pinching myself over the Brookstone noise canceling headphones that I scored for $23.99!  Not bad for something that retails for $149.99!  If it was used, I couldn’t tell because it’s in excellent condition and in its original case with the attachments.  I commute to work on a bus for an hour with people who have a love of listening to the sound of their own voice.  Now, I can safely say, I’m no longer at their mercy.  I’m already doing my happy dance in anticipation of being able to enjoy my commute again.

It’s pretty amazing the things that you can find there.

Here’s an overview of what you can find should you decide to visit the UBC during a long weekend.  Be sure to come during the week day if you can because Fridays and Saturdays are the busiest and you’d be competing against more shoppers then.   The cashier happened to mention that they will be open during July 4th; I believe that they held back on replenishing their stock when we were there two days ago for precisely that reason.  I believe it will be a madhouse on the holiday.  There was also a Formal dress section where you can find wedding, cocktail, prom and formal occasion dresses…the prices weren’t that shabby either.  I’ve photographed four examples with another shot of the price of each dress:

What should I keep in mind while I am there?

As I alluded to before, a lot of people come down and make a weekend out of it.   You will be surprised at how many budget hotels have opened there through the years just to accommodate the UBC crowd.   Just remember that they are closed on Sundays, so that weekend will have to be Friday and Saturday.   Dress comfortably, you will be doing a lot of walking.  We arrived at 9 am and left at 2 pm without seeing 3/4 of the store.

When you arrive, pick up one of their printed floor plans then go directly to the area you are looking to find a deal.  You will see rows and rows of things that you may take a fancy to.  Take your time and go through everything thoroughly so that you don’t overlook a hidden gem.  There is a separate building on the property called the Annex.  Be aware that you will have to pay for your items before you can go from one building to the next.

The Annex houses things like household goods, cooking utensils, bedding, small appliances, makeup, tools, some furniture, pictures, mirrors, etc.  As you can imagine some items are half-used like shampoo, perfume, etc.  Those were bagged up with 6 or 7 different products and sold for either $1.59 or $2.09 depending on its value.  I bought one with Moroccan oil, Lancome facial lotion and anti-aging serum from a company I’d never heard but seemed to be a popular foreign brand according to Google.

Here are some photos that will give you a better idea of what you can expect during your visit:

The store is located at:
509 West Willow Street, Scottsboro, Alabama 35768

We’re open:
Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. CT
Saturday 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. CT
Closed Sundays



Renee King
[email protected]
  • Cathy Sweeney
    Posted at 15:08h, 27 June Reply

    Great deal on the headphones, Renee. You didn’t see my gold ring or blue hooded jacket there, did you? Sounds like so much fun — would love to check this place out and see what kind of deals I could get.

    • Renee
      Posted at 13:47h, 28 June Reply

      Thanks, Cathy…..you never know….both of your items could have passed through the UBC…regrettably…..but you can get some revenge by shopping there yourself. ;-D

  • Michael Figueiredo
    Posted at 16:19h, 27 June Reply

    I had no idea such a place existed! I wish it were closer to my home…I’d totally go shopping there too! “Hidden Treasures” is a great idea for a new series. I look forward to the next installment. 🙂

    • Renee
      Posted at 13:46h, 28 June Reply

      Thanks, Mike! Glad you liked it!

  • Jeremy Branham
    Posted at 18:35h, 27 June Reply

    Man, as soon as I saw this post I got excited! Maybe it’s horrible to get so giddy over others’ misfortune but as a budget traveler, I couldn’t help but get excited about a discount shopping spree!! If only I was closer I would totally do this!

    • Renee
      Posted at 13:26h, 28 June Reply

      I understand completely, Jeremy….it does give you pause because some did own this stuff at one point….so it can be tough to reconcile that.

  • adventureswithben
    Posted at 21:43h, 27 June Reply

    This is perhaps the best find EVER! I want to go.

    • Renee
      Posted at 13:19h, 28 June Reply

      LOL! You should, you’re not that far away!

  • Caanan
    Posted at 21:46h, 27 June Reply

    I think that pink and purple dress is mine! Oh wait, it looks to big for my fragile frame. 🙂

    • Renee
      Posted at 12:33h, 28 June Reply

      LOL….well, it is a pretty dress….so I’m not hating!

  • Ayngelina
    Posted at 23:32h, 27 June Reply

    Best kept shopping secret!

    • Renee
      Posted at 12:32h, 28 June Reply

      Amen! But I hope that those who are close enough to go will do so!

  • robin
    Posted at 07:13h, 28 June Reply

    I think those are my headphones!

    • Renee
      Posted at 12:31h, 28 June Reply

      LOL………you never know!

  • Laurel
    Posted at 07:35h, 28 June Reply

    I never knew such a place existed and that it would be so huge! Definitely a must stop if I’m ever in Scottsboro.

    • Renee
      Posted at 12:31h, 28 June Reply

      You know it really isn’t widely known about….which works out well for those who go often I suppose.

  • Christina
    Posted at 08:18h, 28 June Reply

    That’s a very interesting read. I once saw a TV show, I can’t remember whether it was in the UK or in Germany, where they auctioned off lost luggage that nobody claimed. But to have a place to go where you can buy that stuff is amazing!

    • Renee
      Posted at 12:06h, 28 June Reply

      That kinda reminds me of storage auctions. Any unclaimed/unpaid for storage units are sold to the highest bidder, you never know what you’ll find in it…which is somewhat scary to me. There’s even a reality show about it on US tv called Storage Wars…..

  • Scott - Quirky Travel Guy
    Posted at 20:10h, 28 June Reply

    I’d probably feel a little sad about buying someone else’s lost item… but I’m sure I’d get over that if I got a really great deal!

  • Sophie
    Posted at 11:45h, 29 June Reply

    I’m oddly curious about that Barbie Doll stuffed with 500 dollar-bills. Bound to be an interesting story behind that.

    • Renee
      Posted at 11:16h, 03 July Reply

      I was thinking about that too, Sophie….probably someone with an obvious mistrust of our banking system. Which means he/she was a genius before his time!

  • Debbie Beardsley
    Posted at 13:24h, 29 June Reply

    I never realized where all this stuff goes! It’s like outlet shopping 🙂 Just wish it was closer to home.

    • Renee
      Posted at 11:15h, 03 July Reply

      Well, if you are ever in the ATL for any extended period of time, go for it.

  • Christy
    Posted at 19:18h, 29 June Reply

    What an interesting place. Any idea where the profits go? Or if this store has to pay to acquire the luggage?

    • Renee
      Posted at 11:14h, 03 July Reply

      I think the profits go to the owner, the son of the original founders. I’m sure that they have some kind of arrangement with the airlines and I’m certain the airlines are happy to have someone to take over when they can’t find the people who lost the items.

  • whatsupelsalvador
    Posted at 23:50h, 02 July Reply

    so thats where all our bags went!!

    • Renee
      Posted at 11:17h, 03 July Reply

      Gives you pause for thought, doesn’t it?

  • Boschii
    Posted at 11:55h, 07 July Reply

    I AM SO GLAD THAT I WAS ABLE TO FINALLY READ THIS POST!!!!! It was such a tease but well worth the wait! I can’t wait to visit this place…as soon as I do…I will report back! Holy Smokes! Who knew it was so large? Sounds like it would be best to just rent an RV with a UHaul on the back…LOL

  • Leigh
    Posted at 13:37h, 16 July Reply

    I can’t believe the size of that place!! I had no idea. Is it all the US airlines that send their lost stuff or just some if them? It’s a real wake-up call to properly label your baggage.

    • Renee
      Posted at 10:10h, 17 July Reply

      Hi Leigh….I think it’s all and maybe some international airlines if the items were lost in the states. It is huge…lots to see and yes….guard your property like a hawk!

  • Bob Crunch
    Posted at 16:34h, 19 July Reply

    I had never heard of the Unclaimed Baggage Center before. Yet after just reading your post I want to go there so much now. I think it would be hilarious if you found something that you actually lost in your luggage.

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