Airport Handovers, Confiscations Turn a Profit

Ever wondered what happens to the stuff you – or the angry dude / cranky lady holding up the line in front of you – have to hand over while going through screening checkpoints at the airport?  I know I have.  Until I read this story about a “state surplus store” in Texas, I actually felt “sorry” for airport authorities because I thought they had to figure out what to do with millions of bottles of lotion, contact solution, and hair products.  Who knew they were turning this kind of profit?  Who knew people still thought it was a good idea to bring half this stuff on an plane?

“In its own small way, the stuff travelers leave behind is helping ease the state’s financial woes.”


In the five years this store has been open, its plane-related inventory has soared because of heightened security, according to director James Barrington. The airport stuff takes up most of one small room at the store. In 2010, the state’s general fund was enriched $300,000 by the storefront’s sales.

The left-behind items include belts, fanny packs, forlorn-looking stuffed animals, jangly jewelry and lots and lots of cellphones (BlackBerrys included — for $5, no less — but no iPhones) and chargers. Watches and sunglasses of every type imaginable. Even a couple of bowling balls. How do you forget your bowling ball?

There are more knives at the store than anything else — everything from little 1-inch pocket knives selling for a dollar to more ornate hunting knives marked at prices up to $150. All things sharp — screwdrivers, scissors, pizza cutters — find their way to this store, which sits in the flight path of the very planes that carry the formerly knife-toting passengers to distant destinations.

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  1 comment for “Airport Handovers, Confiscations Turn a Profit

  1. Marilyn Torgrimson
    August 15, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Yes? And just where is this surplus store in AZ?

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