It’s the lone suitcase riding the baggage claim carousel long after the rest have been collected. It’s the duffel bag checked into the abyss. It’s lost luggage, and it’s now available for you to buy online.
Fifty years ago, entrepreneur Doyle Owens started the Unclaimed Baggage Center by buying left-behind bags from transportation companies and selling the best findings to customers at his brick-and-mortar store in Scottsboro, Ala.
Today, that operation has grown to become a 50,000-square-foot store that sells everything but the kitchen sink (except for that time they did sell a kitchen sink) to customers interested in the promise of great deals and interesting finds.
Before the pandemic, Unclaimed Baggage was processing some 7,000 items bought from airlines daily.
“We literally sit and unpack the items, and it’s a pretty extensive process,” said Brenda Cantrell, brand ambassador for Unclaimed Baggage.
A third of the finds are donated to charity, a third is thrown away and a third is cleaned and put up for sale. This year, Unclaimed Baggage came online for the first time, bringing the heavily discounted odds and ends to shoppers around the country who can’t make the trip to the warehouse personally.
A quick spin around the Unclaimed Baggage website shows that you can never guess what someone is traveling with in their suitcase.
“We’ve always said if these bags could talk, they’d have a story to tell,” Cantrell said.
The Unclaimed Baggage staff has found items including a bear pelt packed in salt, an Egyptian burial mask packed in a Gucci suitcase and a live rattlesnake, to name a few standout discoveries. However, Cantrell says the store’s strong suit is selling everyday items for 20 to 80 percent off the suggested retail price.
Here are some of the best deals and conversation starters we found on the site, beyond clothes.
Not to state the obvious here, but yes, the Unclaimed Baggage store sells a lot of suitcases and other travel essentials such as neck pillows and passport holders.
Bag types include, but are not limited to: toiletry, golf-shoe holder, duffel, laptop, crossbody, garment, foldable, wheeled, soft, leather, hip and more.
Carom lizard leather embossed pool cue
Picture this: You’re having friends over for game night and someone motions to your pool table.
“Hey, that’s an interesting cue you have there,” your friend asks.
You pick up your carom lizard leather embossed pool cue. “Oh this old thing?” you reply. “That’s my carom lizard leather embossed pool cue.”
This Unclaimed Baggage find is the ultimate ice breaker, well worth the $590.99 (a $589.01 discount, by the way).
Electronics and accessories
Electronics are aplenty on the Unclaimed Baggage site.
“We’re not a Best Buy and we’re not an Apple store but we have all of those items,” Cantrell said.
You can find unlocked iPhones and iPads, plus cases to protect them, chargers to charge them and AirPods to lose with them.
Other electronics highlights include fitness trackers, camera lenses and noise-canceling headphones.
14-karat diamond tennis bracelet
Not your everyday purchase, this diamond tennis bracelet is one of those pieces of jewelry you (or the loved one you give it to as a gift) will have for the rest of your life. This like-new, 14-karat gold and diamond find is poised to become a new family heirloom, one you hopefully keep track of better than its former owner who abandoned it in their luggage.
Beauty products and toiletries
Forget duty free. Unclaimed Baggage’s Health & Beauty collection has everything from makeup to shampoo to essential oils to stock your toiletry bag before your next trip. Most of these items are “new in box.”
Nick Fouquet felt hat
Justin Bieber. Lady Gaga. Bob Dylan. Maybe you next?
These are the people who have enjoyed Nick Fouquet hats. The Venice, Calif., hat maker draws in celebrity clients with his high-end dome apparel with price tags running upward of $1,000.
One unlucky traveler left his or her gently used Nick Fouquet mauve felt hat behind at the airport, and it’s up for grabs on Unclaimed Baggage. It’s available online for $335.99, just over 70 percent off its suggested retail price of $1,135.
By now you’ve already purchased that lizard leather pool cue, but know there are plenty other sporting goods up for grabs on the Unclaimed Baggage site. There are practical items such as bike wheel sets and running shoes for the standard physical activities in your life. Then there are items that may inspire new hobbies, like this fly-fishing rod or wet suit.