The Unclaimed Baggage Center is a family-run Alabama treasure—one that’s well-known all across the country. Since 1970, it has offered a place for unwanted and unclaimed luggage to find a home. It even donates or recycles some of its findings! Now, as Unclaimed Baggage is celebrating 50 years, we’re stepping back in time to take a look at its history.
Heading to the Skies
In the years after World War II, airplanes became a viable, widely-available form of transportation. Because post-war soldiers and pilots had more experience flying, they realized they could head to the skies for work and travel. Some became private pilots, while others contributed to the sudden, fast-growing arrival of the commercial airfare industry. By the 1950s, it became a full-fledged phenomenon—and a popular form of travel, too.
Commercial flights meant more people could see the world. They also came with a new quirk: lost or unclaimed baggage. So, a new question arose: what would airports do with unclaimed luggage?
Founding of Unclaimed Baggage
In 1970, Entrepreneur Doyle Owens learned that people could actually buy unclaimed baggage. That made him realize that he could turn an inconvenience into a business! He began a long-running local venture, retailing unclaimed luggage from card tables.
Unclaimed Baggage is celebrating 50 years—and it’s all because of the Owens family. Doyle, his wife, and children turned this business from a two-day-a-week sales opportunity to a full-time establishment. They also streamlined the operation by earning contracts with baggage handling and airline companies. Eastern Airlines became the first to join their venture, and other airlines soon followed.
Bryan and Sharon Owens ran the Center after buying it from Doyle Owens, Bryan’s father in 1995. They are both responsible for the adjoining museum, which offers a look at the cool treasures that come their way.
This iconic business is more than just a family tradition—it’s a way of life. Currently, Bryan and Sharon’s three sons are running the Unclaimed Baggage Center. Matt, Micah, and Ben Owens are even working to bring the store online.
Wondering just how many folks like to visit this Scottsboro landmark? Under the ownership of the Owens brothers, the Unclaimed Baggage Center welcomes more than a million different guests each and every year!
You can find the Unclaimed Baggage center at 509 West Willow St. in Scottsboro, Alabama. That’s right—it’s near us! Though they’re currently closed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, you can always add a visit to your post-social-distancing plans!
Just can’t wait? Visit their site. They plan to reveal a new online store soon!
Scottsboro, Alabama is filled with amazing sites—just like the Unclaimed Baggage center. Congratulations are in order! After all, Unclaimed Baggage is celebrating 50 years. Here’s to a full century—or longer!
Our town has another great site—Willow Creek Apartment Homes. See our floorplans, features, and online application info here. As for learning more about all the terrific things that Scottsboro has to offer, check out our blog.