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Your Lost Luggage Eventually Ends Up In This Alabama Thrift Store



Lost luggage was a huge problem last year with 26 million pieces lost, damaged or misplaced. But one industry’s huge headache is just another’s stockroom. When bags can’t make it back to their owners, they often end up at Unclaimed Baggage, a resale shop in Scottsboro, Alabama.

The Washington Post recently visited Unclaimed Baggage, which builds its stock using lost luggage not only from the airline industry, but trains, buses and other hospitality outlets. Naturally, the stuff at Unclaimed Baggage is sorted and only about one third of items that come through its 50,000 square foot store are sold there or online, but the stuff it does sell is pretty high end. After all, whether you’re packing for vacation, business trip or a family visit, most people bring pretty decent stuff with them on a plane. From the Post:

“Golly there’s so many!”

A blond man stared out in disbelief at the sea of racks before him. There was missing stuff as far as the eye could see: laptops, fedoras, designer bags, tuxedos worthy of the Oscars, hunting rifles, underwear (new pairs only, found with tags or in packaging). According to its tag, a Wilson tennis racket was valued at $300 but selling for $77.99. A $575 Tumi garment bag was going for $399.99. There were $34 e-readers for $7.99.

If it’s ever been packed in a suitcase, a staff member told me, it’s probably been sold here. At a markdown.

I came for the store’s big annual ski sale, so in addition to the usual stock there were aisles and aisles of snow gear — from silky soft Arc’teryx jackets to waterproof overalls — plus skis, snowboards, helmets and boots.

Austin Snider, 29, drove 100 miles from Birmingham, Ala., to be among the first 50 people in line who get 30 minutes of early access to the sale, among other perks. Nabbing one of those spots requires camping in the strip mall parking lot overnight. Rumor had it that people came from as far as Canada and North Dakota to camp this year.

Snider’s best score was a limited-edition Burton snowboard that’s “almost two grand to preorder it,” he told me. “I think I paid $300 here.”

His dad, Jeff Kidwell, 50, lives in the nearby town of Ider, Ala., and has been shopping at Unclaimed Baggage for nearly two decades. He’s had similar luck at the sale, even finding his own limited-edition Burton aluminum core snowboard, complete with bindings, that retailed new for about $1,700. “I got the whole thing for $200,” Kidwell said.

The store has a team of experts that authenticate jewelry and luxury items, or dispose of counterfeits. The most expensive item ever sold was a platinum Rolex that was appraised for $64,000 and sold for $32,000 in 2014.

Man, if some airline lost my bag with my $64,000 Rolex in it, I’d be pissed. Online, Unclaimed Baggage offers such morbidly curious items as a Women’s Lingerie Mystery Bag ($14.99 for 10-15 pairs of “like new” undies) or Unusual Finds, which currently includes items like silver teapots, diamond jewelry and a Wooden Namji Fertility Doll.

The entire story is really cool, and a little infuriating if you’ve ever had a bag full of your favorite shirts slip into the black hole of the system. You can read the entire story here.

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