AL tourist destination is home of Unclaimed Baggage

SPECIAL REPORT: Unclaimed Baggage

SCOTTSBORO, AL (WTVM) - When it comes to shopping all us have limitations. We'll only pay so much for an item, and travel so far to get it.

But you can toss some that logic out the window when it comes to a business in north Alabama. It's called Unclaimed Baggage, and do they have a deal for you! It's a company that sells other people's stuff, and it is huge.

"We're one of the largest tourist attractions in the state of Alabama," said brand ambassador Brenda Cantrell.

Yep, she said tourist attraction, which is kind of odd for a shopping center, but Unclaimed Baggage is one of a kind.

The store specializes in selling items left behind in the luggage of travelers, most of them airline passengers, and it's been doing that for more than 40 years.

"The business actually started in 1970 by Doyle and Sue Owens," Cantrell said.

It's Cantrell's job to get people into the store.

"At the time, Mr. Owens was a part-time insurance salesman," Cantrell said. "He had a friend up in Washington, D.C. who had some unclaimed bags. He had seen the thrift store concept. So he borrowed $300 from one grandfather and a pickup truck from the other, and he and his wife loaded up the truck and headed up to D.C. to buy their first load of unclaimed baggage."

Business was slow at first, but eventually Unclaimed Baggage took off, and is now visited by more than a million customers each year - some more often than others.

"About once a week, I try to come at least once a week," says regular shopper Marionna Harbin.

Harbin lives nearby, as does Casey Clark, but it's her first visit to Unclaimed Baggage.

"I'm here with my friends and we've always wanted to come here and just kind of see what all they've had," Clark said. "I love it. I walked in and was like 'ahhhhh.'"

A look at the car tags shows that people come from all over the country to take advantage of the bargains, like Daniel Darnell from Alaska.

"I ended up getting two Samsung tablets," Darnell said. "They were used. They actually still had the plastic on the tablets, $100 each, so for $200 I was able to get two, very good condition, used tablets."

The jewelry department at Unclaimed Baggage is one of the most popular. Not only with women, but men as well. In fact, the most expensive item ever was purchased here.

"A men's Presidential Platinum Rolex watch, that appraised for $64,000 and we sold it for $32,000 last year," Cantrell said.

That price is 50 percent off. Did we mention they have a cafe? That's so you never have to leave Unclaimed Baggage. Every afternoon a guest is chosen to go through a bag, the contents of which have only been seen by one person.

Their experts examine every item and determine whether it can be sold, donated or trashed altogether. These corresponding bins are designed for sorting.

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