Scottsboro, Alabama: The lost luggage capital of the world

As we drove through the hazy foothills of the Appalachian Mountains and along the calm shores of Lake Guntersville, signs started popping up.

“Only 10 Miles Until the Unclaimed Baggage Center!”

“Turn at Next Right for UBC!”

I excitedly turned to my mom.

“Mom, Oprah called this ‘One of the country’s best kept shopping secrets’ one time. Oprah, Mom. Oprah!”

We pulled into the parking lot and snagged a spot ... after a quick snap with the sign.

We had officially arrived.

Conveniently located only 5ish hours from my home, and on the way to a college I was visiting, the Unclaimed Baggage Center was a must. As a lover of thrifting and weirdness, I was super pumped to rifle through other people’s lost items.

I was expecting a quaint little shop, one that perfectly reflected the charm that was described in the thousands of websites I read through. Maybe there would be a local coffee shop tucked away in a corner, or a bakery. Maybe there would be walls of unclaimed art or masses of award-winning novels.

I had avoided looking at pictures, and, in hindsight, I might have shot myself in the foot. Instead of the whimsy I pictured, I got a warehouse, packed to the brim with people, headphones and ski gear.

There was an entire room for wedding dresses. There were three display cases full of dinged-up laptops. There were shelves and shelves of shoes.

There was a $1,400-dollar hand-woven Turkish rug.

There were ugly momentos from home.

There were even uglier designer shoes.

Mostly though, there was an overwhelming feeling of chaos.

It was easy to get lost in the racks of clothing and forget the original draw of the place. All these items used to belong to someone, and, somewhere along the way, the luggage-passenger pair parted, and were never brought back together. Someone devoted coveted suitcase space to that pair of shoes you’re holding or that rugged pair of jeans.

If you do ever find yourself in Scottsboro, Alabama, in the parking lot of the UBC, try to remain conscious of the initial draw. Try to make up stories about why this person abandoned their designer prom dress or their Salvador Dali painting (actually happened!). Try not to get lost in the physical items, but rather the uniqueness of the center and the devotion that lies in each item you’re holding.

Lucy is a high school senior and avid pursuer of good music and cute clothes. She describers her style as "Mom from the '90s" combined with "Young, confident ,millennial." She values kindness and self-expression.