Profitable Case Studies

Unclaimed Luggage means Unclaimed Profits

Read about the horrific launch of Heathrow’s new Terminal 5? Designed to ease congestion and queuing in the World’s busiest airport the launch of Terminal 5 was nothing short of disastrous for British Airways (the only airline using the terminal) and its’ passengers. It seems that organisation was the main downfall with thousands of bags going missing within the first week of the terminal launch. Many of these bags went unclaimed, the original owners having not come forward to claim their lost possessions – ultimately this opens an opportunity for the motivated and savvy re-seller.

Unclaimed luggage from the World’s busiest airport gets sent to South London Auctioneer (Register Now to Display These Supplier Details) and is promptly sold to the highest bidder. visited the auction house, based in Tooting, to hunt down a potential opportunity for its members. Amongst the frenzied bidding we managed to chat to one of just 50 bargain hunters who were there on the day vying for the 138 bags going under the hammer.

“It’s a hobby really… A bit of fun. Maybe I’ll find some designer gear but it’s pot luck!” Taylor, a 31 year old hairdresser had just completed her first visit to (Register Now to Display These Supplier Details) and bought seven suitcases for £213. She is planning on re-selling the bag and its contents separately through eBay and is hoping for around a +60% return on her investment. “I’ve never been before so it was a little intimidating at first. My friend bought me along and I’m hoping for a good find, she’s a regular and the last time she came found £150 in a side pocket of a case she bought for £14! I’d settle for something like that today!” was surprised to find that according to (Register Now to Display These Supplier Details) this was an average attendance for an unclaimed luggage auction. This certainly means there are some bargains to be had for attendees; with anything in the bags from hair straighteners to MP3 Players. The auction house also expects to get a further boost from the continued chaos at London Heathrow airport’s new Terminal 5, where the technical problems have not yet been overcome.

For Taylor the whole experience had been a steep learning curve "I thought everything was clean and folded/wrapped in plastic but some frequent bidders told me that you get lots of rubbish, dirty underwear," she confided as she sized up the seven bags she had won.

Once an item of luggage is unclaimed British Airways, the sole carrier operating at Heathrow’s Terminal 5, still has some weeks before it can start selling off the lost bags and, in most cases, says it eventually reunites unclaimed luggage with its owners. But, due to the high volume of passengers and therefore luggage, it does inevitably send lost bags to auction houses and, a spokesman informed WholesaleScout that BA donates any money earned from the sales to charity.

"In a good week, we can have 300 lots, but after the chaos at Terminal 5, we are expecting many bags in the coming weeks," said Christine Satchett, owner and auctioneer of Greasby’s.

The contents of the bags are sorted in the auction house’s reception area. Valuable items such as electrical equipment and jewellery are sold separately, while the rest is put back into the cases at random. Although the auctioneers do their best to segregate the more valuable items from the cases many pockets, nooks and crannies are missed giving way for the opportunist buyer to grab more than they bargained for. It certainly is a lucky dip!

"They could buy some guy’s dirty washing as some just walk out (of the airport) and they don’t want their rucksack – they just want money from the insurance," Satchett exclaimed with a wry grin on her face.

With a starting price of five pounds, each suitcase is given a brief description and then the bidding begins.

Taylor snaps up lot two for 24 pounds. It contains scores of designer T-shirts, all in good condition, and at first she is pleased.

But then she looks in a side pocket and finds a silicon bra insert used for temporary breast enhancement.

"Oh my god! What’s that? I’ve bought a boob job!" she screams.

With that we wished Taylor good luck with her re-selling (not sure whether she’ll be able to shift the bra insert!) and pondered the profit making opportunities of a trip to (Register Now to Display These Supplier Details) on our way back to the office. Although it’s obvious you’ll get some cases containing items of little worth but if you hedge your bets by buying several cases you will certainly make a profit when re-selling the contents either on eBay, at car boot sales or even on a market stand. We estimated that Taylor should be making around £120 profit based on the current market value of her luggage contents. That’s more than a 50% return for a days work! That makes a trip to Greasby’s well worth it, especially if you live in and around the M25 area. So there we have it, you’ve got no excuse, call Greasby’s and make sure you’re at the next unclaimed luggage auction!


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