If you take just one holiday shopping trip this year, let it be to Scottsboro, Ala. That’s where the Unclaimed Baggage Center — yes, you heard right — is kicking off its annual ski sale on Saturday.
“What? There are no slopes in the Deep South!” you say. Nope, but there are deals to make you snow-ready at the only store in the U.S. that buys unclaimed luggage and bags from airlines and then resells their contents to the public.
The center’s 37th annual Winter and Ski Event is a bargain hunter’s and snow bunny’s delight, with steep discounts — 20% to 80% off retail prices — on unclaimed skis, snowboards, helmets, ski jackets, etc.
Shoppers can snag apparel from name brands, including Arcteryx, Columbia, Marmot, Nordica, Patagonia and The North Face. Don’t worry, all clothing is professionally dry-cleaned before sale.
Many shoppers camp out/line up the night before. Shopping is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. Saturday, preceded by raffles, games and contests starting at 6 a.m. in the parking lot.
At 8 p.m. Friday, the store gives out free pizza, popcorn and s’mores in the parking lot and will host an open-air screening of the film “Labyrinth” at 10 p.m.
But back to the backstory on the store.
Since 1970, the center has been buying unclaimed luggage from airlines and other transport companies. Goods go on the block after airlines and other carriers have attempted to reunite bag and passenger over a 90-day period.
Unclaimed goods for sale include jewelry, electronics (yes, even iPads, etc.), clothing, adventure gear and oddities such as moose antlers, a full suit of armor, a platinum Rolex, a camera from a space shuttle and a coffin. Don’t worry, the camera was returned to NASA; no word on the coffin.
How to get there
Huntsville International Airport (HSV) is the closest airport to Scottsboro. Tickets for connecting flights from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to HSV for a Friday-through-Sunday trip cost around around $566 roundtrip, according to Kayak. Bargain shoppers may want to redeem air miles for the journey.
Nearby lodging, dining and activities are detailed on the store’s website.
Whether you go now or later, put this shopper’s paradise on your bargain bucket list. The store says 7,000 new items are added every day. On the winter-sale day, there should be about 9,000 items on sale.
Info: Unclaimed Baggage Center, 509 W. Willow St., Scottsboro, Ala. 35768; (256) 259-1525