The trip started with large flapping from the soft car-top carrier bunjee-corded to the top of the vehicle and our personal rhythm section stayed with us throughout. Our destination was the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama. It was the one and only destination in Scottsboro. The pictures, the rave reviews and all the hype had built it to monumental proportions. I had a friend who had gone before and brought my perspective a bit in check calling it a “glorified-Goodwill.” The clerks at the hotel guaranteed we would not be there all day – definitely back in time for a 6 PM free spa.
The clerks, our first introduction to the friendliness of Alabama, chatted with us for ten minutes about some of the stories associated with our morning location. Apparently, in the good ol’ days, no one worried about valuing the finds and designer bags, clothes and the like were sold at Wal-Mart prices. The downside was that inventory wasn’t always accurate – one lady purchased what she thought was unopened Tide detergent. She opened it when she got home and found a kilo of cocaine. Both sides considered, the UBC has considerably updated its process.
If you didn’t know the address for the UBC, it would be easy to drive right by. It appeared to be the only gig in town and was still rather underwhelming. It was identical to a Goodwill – the experience came in constantly reflecting that the items had been someone’s luggage. Wedding gowns, fishing poles, bikes and instruments. Apparently some other items come over from shipments – I’ve not confirmed this, but I have a hard time believing that someone packed a juke box. “Um, hi, my name is Luddite. I don’t believe in iPods, but I do like music so I’d like to make sure this juke box meets me on the other side.”
What we really were looking for was a museum of sorts to look at some of the more unusual finds. Instead we learned it had been relegated to a couple of window boxes at the front. They were interesting pieces – a hand-carved, mahogany, menorah and several movie props – but not the suit of armor I’d heard rumors of or the giant emerald.
Nevertheless, the idea caught on. In the neighborhood were two other shops claiming similar stashes of goodies. A T&W Unclaimed Luggage – contents resembling yard sale finds more than luggage and The Unclaimed Bag – contents resembling Big Lots.
We made it back to the hotel in time for a nap and our free spa. Turns out the spa was a promotional pitch – we had to do most of the work and on only half our hands and face. Not exactly the promo we had received but we sat through it. In the end I had half of a smooth cheek, a mediocre back rub and a rumbling stomach.
The next day started our next adventure – the World’s Longest Yard Sale.