Have you ever left something on an airplane? The list of items I’ve left behind is endless. And, very infrequently have I ever recovered any of those things. There was one example of why I continue to support American Airlines because an Admirals Club agent left the club and found the empty plane I had left my headphones on a couple hours previously. She held on to them for a couple weeks until I returned to that airport and retrieved them. But, that’s absolutely the exception. Where does all the rest of the stuff end up? Some of it likely ends up with dishonest employees. And, the rest has to get disposed of. I had heard rumors of a store in Arizona that had built a business selling unclaimed items, but that was quite some time ago.
That’s why this New York Times article was interesting to me, detailing a store in Alabama that has a somewhat thriving business collecting unclaimed items from airports around the country and organizing them for sale.
And, it’s a whole lot more than just suitcases:
How great a business is unclear, given the family-owned company’s reluctance to disclose what it considers proprietary information, other than to insist that the sign that stands outside this nondescript strip mall — “7,000 new items daily” — represents truth in advertising. She did estimate the annual traffic count at nearly a million, drawn from every state and at least 40 countries — including a commercial pilot based in Qatar who drops by regularly with his wife. Buses are welcome.
The craziest items they’ve seen?
Little can surprise Mrs. Cantrell anymore after seeing wheelchairs, oxygen tanks, full suits of armor and rare musical instruments wander in. Some items are so unusual that they are stashed in the company “museum,” or exhibited on the store walls, unavailable for any price. On exhibit last week was a tribal breastplate and an African djembe, or drum.
I’ve gotta be honest. If I used the airlines to transport a suit of armor, I would most definitely be aware that they hadn’t delivered it. I guess it’s possible the airline lost it long enough and compensated the passenger. But, when they found it, didn’t someone put two and two together? Or was it more like, “Hey, any idea which customer we lost a suit of armor for last month this one belonged to?”.
Nestled in between Huntsville, Alabama and Chattanooga, TN (with Nashville and Atlanta a longer but manageable drive), it’s certainly a bit off the beaten path.
Am I crazy to contemplate the roughly 5-hour round trip ride to check it out on an upcoming Atlanta trip?
I’m more than a bit curious.
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