Lost luggage finds: From Egyptian burial masks to live snakes
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, Alaska.
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 about 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.