AUSTIN, Texas (CBS Austin) - Have you ever wondered what happens to all the stuff that doesn't make it through the airport? Thousands of pounds of property either gets left behind or seized by TSA at security checkpoints, but all of it ends up at the same place.
The State Surplus Storefront in East Austin is home to tons of items that never made it onto airplanes at airports across the state of Texas. It's a 50,000 square foot warehouse and inside you can find pretty much anything from pocket knives to tools, jewelry and electronics.
"Some days you find some good things, some days not so good, but you always find a deal," said Jimmy Skipton.
Skipton found out about the State Surplus Storefront seven years ago and is now a regular customer. "Right here you can get a whole mix matched bag of knives for $15 and I'll probably buy it just to see what's inside, "Skipton said.
Kristy Fierro is the store's director. "We sell really anything that is legal to sell," Fierro said.
Fierro took us behind the scenes where thousands of pounds of stuff from Texas airports is sorted. The most property, she said comes from Houston. "This is a typical bin of property that comes in," Fierro said as she sifted through a table of power tools, corkscrews and box cutters.
All of those items start to look the same after a while, but there are still some things that will catch her attention. "It's not sharp, but it's still very scary," Fierro said about a large machete.
After everything is sorted in the back, it ends up in the storefront for sale to the public. A quick glance through the bins yields bundles of kitchen knives, sunglasses and baseball bats. Most everything is less than $5.
Marilyn Jones showed up to buy a Swiss Army knife after hers was taken by TSA. "I'm not finding my own, but I'm just going to enjoy getting another one for a fraction of the price," Jones said.
There are also pricier items like jewelry. "Some of its sterling and has gemstones and then there's a little piece of gold on there," said one customer.
Fierro said the wide variety of jewelry keeps some customers coming back almost daily. "It's fun, it's exciting and you never know what you're going to get," one customer said.
A snake in a bottle is proof that you never know what you're going to get. "Our guess is it has liquor in it," Fierro said about the cobra with a scorpion in its mouth. She said it's the strangest thing they've ever seen come through the store.
Fierro said they aren't able to advertise the store. Most people find out about it by word-of-mouth or driving by.
Regulars like Jimmy Skipton hope the storefront will stay one of Austin's best- kept secrets. "Just don't tell anybody," Skipton said.
If TSA takes something from you at security, the airport is required to keep it for 30 days so the owner can go back and claim it. If it ends up at the State Surplus Storefront, it will then be available to be bought back at a discounted price.
The store is located at 6506 Bolm Road. It's open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.