America's only Lost Luggage Store
In 1970 Doyle Owens headed to Washington D.C. with an idea, a borrowed pick-up truck and a $300 loan to pick up his first load of unclaimed baggage. Selling the contents on card tables in an old rented house, the venture was an instant success. Starting from that first load of unclaimed baggage, the company, run by Doyle, his wife Sue, and their two boys, grew into a thriving business that would eventually become the only lost luggage store in the United States.
Over the next four decades, relationships with airline and other transportation companies across the country were forged. Regional magazines and newspapers began featuring the ‘land of lost luggage’. Products from around the world began pouring into Scottsboro, Alabama, from the ordinary to the amazing. Media and curious visitors quickly followed from every corner of the globe to see the one-of-a-kind store.
Today Unclaimed Baggage Center, which was purchased by Doyle’s son Bryan in 1995, covers more than a city block. It is one of Alabama’s top tourist attractions hosting over a million visitors a year from every state and over 40 foreign countries.
How Lost Baggage Gets to Our Store
Although over 99.5% of domestic airline’s checked backs are picked up at the baggage carousel, lost luggage is an unfortunate part of airline travel. The airlines conduct an extensive three-month tracing process with the remaining .5% of unclaimed bags in an effort to reunite them with their owners, resulting in an astonishingly small fraction of a percent of bags that are ultimately orphaned. Claims are paid on these remaining lost bags and only then do the airlines sell the remaining unclaimed baggage property to Unclaimed Baggage Center. These purchasing agreements provide an important service to the airlines by giving a second life to unclaimed items.
The lost bags arrive by the tractor-trailer load at our processing facility to be sorted and priced. Our experienced staff sorts out only the best items for the retail floor. Clothes are dry-cleaned and laundered, fine jewelry is cleaned and appraised, and all electronic equipment is tested and cleared of personal data. Of the remaining items about half are thrown away and the other half are donated through our Reclaimed for Good program, helping people around the world. Our goal is to sell, donate, recycle and repurpose everything we can, finding a new home for what was once lost.