If you’ve ever wondered what happens to your lost luggage, look no further than Alabama. A store was opened there in 1970 where those lost baggage items were sold.
Known as the Unclaimed Baggage Center, this 40,000 square foot store has everything. Ambassador Brenda Cantrell says it houses up to a million items at once.
Statistics say that there is only about a 2% chance that you will lose your luggage on a trip. However, the UBC still gets about 7,000 new items each day.
This isn’t a case of an airport just selling off your luggage. They attempt to get it back to you. However, after 90 days, it legally belongs to the airline. You would’ve probably been compensated by then though.
Consider the UBC swooping in like an episode of Storage Wars. If the airline fails to do so after 90 days, the UBC buys the bag. They also purchase from bus terminals and train stations.
If airlines are out to get your stuff back to you, how does the UBC get so much? Well, the airlines aren’t responsible for your carry-ons. That’s a lot of the UBC’s pickups.
The UBC has actually become a major tourist attraction. It’s a major hit for Alabama. In fact, it gets a reported one million visitors per year from over three dozen countries.
After arriving at the UBC, a rigorous sorting process is the next step. A third of the items are sold, a third are donated to the Salvation Army, and a third gets recycled.
For the items deemed sellable, they must be cleaned. The UBC’s in-house dry cleaner is the largest in the state. An estimated 20,000 items get washed there daily.
As for jewelry, they are cleaned and appraised before being put out. At one time, the UBC hosted a $60,000 platinum Rolex. Electronics are also scrubbed clean.
It would be unfair to sell these items at full price. The UBC instead offers theirs for anywhere between 20% and 50% off of the retail price. They offer exchanges for up to two weeks.
Of note, a lot of people get their engagement rings at the UBC. it may seem odd but a lot of folks lose theirs. People consistently find quality items for cheap.
Stories include a man who bought a piece of art for $50 that was worth $25,000, as well as an $18,000 vase sold for $80. That’s just the tip of the iceberg though.
Some famous things were found. That included a jacket signed by Paul McCartney, Vera Wang wedding gowns, a NASA space shuttle camera, and a missile guidance system.
There are also some strange tales to be told. A man bought a pair of boots for his wife, only to find out that they were the exact pair she had lost years earlier. Her name was on the inside.
They enjoy the strange items they find. There’s a museum in the store for the weirdest items, including a set of McDonald’s arches, a rattlesnake, and a mummified hawk.
That’s why the tourist rate is so high. Good deals and some of the wackiest items at any store. It’s quality stuff people wanted to take on vacation, not junk they tossed.
The workers at the store have pointed out that it has helped them stay up to date with what’s in. The items they discover often paint a picture of what is hot in the world.
When you consider how good the items are, it’s the best thrift store on Earth. They host 26 annual events, including their own popular take on Black Friday.
To further set them apart from other stores, they’ve also played host to several concerts. Basically, whatever a typical store would do, the UBC does something different and it works.