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Lost Treasures From

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     One of the benefits of travelling in an RV is we discover numerous unique places en route.  Since we make the journey to our destination part of our adventure, we try to explore new stops along the way.  While in Florida last winter RV friends recommended we visit the Unclaimed Baggage Center (UBC) in Scottsboro, Alabama just off highway 72. A quick check of the map determined this was not far from highway 75 --- our route home. The more we discovered about this unusual place the more we knew we just had to include a visit.

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Clothes

 

 

 

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Wedding & Jewellry

 

 

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The choice  in this One-of-a-Kind

 boutique is like No other!

There were several campgrounds in the area, along with a wide selection of hotels so it made sense we should check it out and share the news with everyone. Our 10-day stay over Easter at the unique Crawford RV Park, a member of Passport America was most enjoyable. Parks in the Passport Discount Camping Club system offers a 50% discount to its members. Although this is a very versatile tourist friendly area, by far the main highlight is several visits to the Unclaimed Baggage Center (UBC).

Walking into such a distinctive place is like walking into a giant candy store.  This one-of-a-kind boutique overflows with choice treasures where the stock continually changes. Over 7000 pieces of merchandise (all new to the store) arrive each day---one million items are collected, refurbished and sorted annually. UBC purchases all unclaimed bags sight unseen from airline companies around the world. These transactions are similar to buying millions of surprise grab bags to resell for 50-80% off the suggested retail price.

 

At the entrance ‘Cups’, a Starbucks expresso café welcomes visitors to this outstanding place. As far as the eye can see racks of clothes invite browsers to take their time and enjoy the experience.  To make it easy, clothes are sized and displayed in specialized categories; each department is organized for easy shopping. Cameras, eye glasses--both prescription in designer frames and sun glasses, CD’s, computers, of course luggage, shoes, sporting goods, quality and fashion jewelry, evening wear to outer wear jackets plus suits, sports coats and slacks for men and dress clothes for women are just a few of the items you will find.  A complete line of men’s dress and casual shirts or ladies blouses, T’s, jeans, pants, shorts, bathing suits, beachwear, new lingerie and so much more are waiting for you to discover. During our visit there was a wide selection of quality fishing gear and several golf club sets. Scuba gear was also available for the right owner. Try to imagine all the things that travellers would pack for an airline ride and it probably will turn up one day in the UBC.

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 'Cups' Starbucks Cafe

 

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Glasses

 

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Shoes

 

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Books and more

 

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On the lighter side of things UBC offers a “Top Ten” list to reduce the chances of your luggage getting lost or being mishandled.


#10. Ensure that the bag is not broken and the zipper works.


 #9. Verify that your destination tag is correct.


 #8. Insure expensive items for more than the industry standard of $2500.


 #7. Avoid special handling instructions


#6. Arrive early for check-in.


 #5. Provide legible ID on both the INSIDE and outside of you luggage.


 #4. Lock your bag.


 #3. Ensure that your luggage handle is working properly.


 #2. Be able to identify your contents.


****The number one tip on how to keep your luggage from getting lost

 #1.   TIP THE SKYCAP


        
There were even two exquisite wedding dresses on display. Brenda from UBC Marketing and Media Relations and I had an interesting in-depth analytical discussion trying to decide if these beautiful dresses were lost before or after the wedding. When we saw the small red stain on one sleeve we decided it was either from red wine or residue of Moms tear stained make-up. At least we both felt better thinking the dress was lost following the wedding, not before.

At the jewellery counter expensive treasures displayed under glass were available at a price, such as a rare large Emerald mounted in a ring with an appraisal value of $29,500.00; it was on sale for a mere $14,750.00 for the right customer.  Merchandise moves fast, so if you see something that strikes your fancy you had better buy it then because it most likely won’t be around tomorrow.  On our first visit I saw two extra special quality necklaces sporting the name of Barbara, by the next day they had both been sold.  A large selection of fashionable costume style earrings is displayed for easy choosing---my earring supply is now well stocked.  The selection of available treasures in this fascinating place seems to go on and on.  The UBC is also a clearing depot for lost freight shipments.  During our stop an entire shipment of room-sized oriental rugs, many household objects d’arts, paintings and other necessities for setting up home were on sale as well.

 

 

While reading this, you may think to yourself  “I don’t want somebody’s old used junk”.   Relax, John and I purchased several shirts, tops (new, still with the original store tags on them) for $6.00 to $8.00 along with a new (still tagged) designer bathing suit for $18.00.   We both purchased a couple of good, but not new, shirts for a mere $4.00 each. All the merchandise comes from lost luggage or articles left on planes or in airport plus unclaimed air cargo.  In reality the owner, not the baggage is lost. Although only .002% of all airline baggage goes unclaimed, the sheer number of airline passengers travelling the world translates as mega amount of merchandise. Airline companies around the world try diligently to find the owners of the lost luggage for a period of 90 days before they begin insurance settlement claims---they frequently keep looking for over 100 days or more.

 

 

 

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Rare finds set up in the Museum

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After the airlines complete their search and payouts etc, the bags are purchased by UBC and transported to their facility to sort and sell. Older items are thrown away; some merchandise is donated to charities but many nearly new and brand new treasures are sale priced and entered into inventory.  Original store tags are left in place for the info of the new owners. When necessary the nearly new clothes, such as the above wedding dresses, are washed and ironed or dry cleaned before they reach the display racks. Just as an example of the savings, one of those beautiful wedding dresses was a size 2 and priced at a mere $150.00. Since so much fresh merchandise arrives daily, frequent repeat visits are always an adventure. 

At times lost baggage includes several expensive objects.  In 1997 Unclaimed Baggage Center opened a central museum to show off some of their unusual acquisitions.  Easter 2002, a three-foot Hoggle from the 1980 movie ‘Labyrinth’ staring David Bowie watched over the museum. There was also rare coins, a vintage set of bagpipes, unique oriental robes plus much more. Unfortunately the museum pieces are not for sale.  A concierge, children’s play area and clock tower are a few more amenities that enhance a visit to the Unclaimed Baggage Center

The UBC began as a dream of Doyle Owens and his wife Sue in 1970 when they sold goods part time from temporary tables.  The present Scottsboro flagship retail centre stretches over 50,000 square fee of space; it takes up an entire city block. Doyle’s son Bryan is the current president and CEO. If a large stock of particular items surface such as crutches etc. they are donated to an agency that can use them. Throughout the year UBC host special sales such as a big ski sale during the first Saturday in November.  Jewelry, art promotions and other ‘special days’ ensure visits to the Unclaimed Baggage Center are always interesting.

UBC is open Monday to Friday 9 am-6 pm and Saturday 8 am-6 pm Central Time--- they are closed on Sunday. Although the main store is located in Scottsboro, Alabama, UBC also has a smaller store in Boaz, Alabama. You can call 256 259 1525 for info or shop on line at www.unclaimedbaggage.com where over 200 items are added daily.  What’s amazing at the UBC either on line or in the store is a visit is like going on a treasure hunt, you never know what gem you will find.   There is a lot to see and do in this area. For more info on Scottsboro and Jackson County, call the Chamber of Commerce at 256 259 5500 or 800 259 5508 or log onto www.sjcchamber.org.  Enjoy your adventures.

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