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…….
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”.
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.
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
Monday – Friday 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. CT
Saturday 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. CT