Author Archives: Van Ngo

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Boise for Sam’s Locker Room and everything in between


This past weekend, yours truly had the pleasure to witness how a pawn shop in Boise, Idaho operates. Having spent two whole days with Samuel Reading of Sam’s Locker, I got to understand what makes a pawn shop successful and was able to see past the misconceptions.

Immediately after landing in Boise Airport, Sam texted to see if I could join in on an auction.  Specifically, this was an estate sale for a World War 2 veteran that had recently past away.  If you’ve always wondered what’s shown on TV is reflected on the real world, the answer is yes.  The auctioneers of Downs Auctions spoke fast and participants were all quick draws on the bids.  Following Sam around, I saw his tactic was to focus on hard goods such as tools, accessories and items that can be converted to raw material.  Meanwhile his business partner, Jason, focused on guns, accessories and parts.  In a matter of minutes, I’ve discovered how big of a deal firearms for collecting and recreation are for Boise denizens.

The latter part of Friday was spent observing pawn transactions take place at Sam’s Locker.  I must say, being situated between a bail bonding agency, furniture shop and the Boise Aquarium, the foot traffic of prospects, customers and passerby’s is quite impressive.  Much like Resolution Brewing’s random drop-in’s, Sam’s Locker sees and warmly greets a handful of random stragglers and newfound repeat customers.  At nearly two months old, I’d say Sam has picked the right location for his pawn shop.  And it certainly helps that the team is keen on procuring hard goods that potential customers may want to pawn, buy or sell.  On the technical side, Sam gave me a crash course on how to assess jewelry.  I must say the point of sales system is so robust that you almost never have to leave the user interface (e.g. google an item) to access value.

A bulk of Saturday was spent brainstorming on how to refine the current daily operations and what channels of cross-promotion can yield the best return on investment  That said, yours truly had a few penny’s worth of thoughts to share.  I’m anticipating a call or text from Sam in a few weeks to see if shared light bulb ideas have left a positive impact on the company.  To get a good understanding on how the Boise pawn scene is like, Sam also took me to a competitor pawn shop.  Having shadowed Sam around for the weekend, I think it’s safe to say Pandoros is pleased to have invested in Sam’s Locker Room and will continue to support Sam in any way possible.  We look forward to Sam’s endeavors to add title loans as an additional service.

As a side note, I left intrigued at the type of items people will bring into pawn or are willing to purchase at a pawnshop.  Up until recently, I didn’t think a 1972 Glastron boat would something you’d bring into a pawn shop.  Having witnessed one brought in exchange for a loan, I guess that answered my question.

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Pandoros went Alaskan-Bound


On top of real estate investments, Pandoros also has worn the venture capitalist hat.  Most recently, yours truly had the honor of trekking to Anchorage, Alaska to visit Resolution Brewing Company.

Founded by Brandon Hall, Christopher Castaneda and Luke Bowen, the three like minded cohorts are passionate craft beer otakus.  This passion paired with Luke’s insight, Chris’s logistics background, Brandon’s vision and technical know-how translates into a triumvirate that is out to make its dent in the Alaskan micro-brewery scene.

Since Luke lives in Boston, I only had a chance to interface with Brandon and Chris this past weekend.  Picked their brains a bit on the brewing process, offered some tips on better lighting for future marketing photos, showed them progress on the WordPress site Paul has been working on and overall got to observe pre-grand opening daily operations.  In return, I was given a crash course on what goes on during a beer guild meet, taken around town with frequent visits to the local brewing supply store and attended an Alaskan Beer week event.

It’s been a very beer-centric four days and its definitely exciting to see random strangers knock on the retail space asking “How soon will you guys be ready to serve?”  “Can I buy that hoodie you’re wearing and do they come in different colors?” is also another question that came up from passerbys.

Nearing the finish line of opening its doors, Resolution Brewing Company will be serving Belgo-American brews to friends, family and all that love craft beer at its taproom in the near future.  This weekend, the gents will be hosting a mini brewery tour as well as open up flood gate for apparel and accessories sales.  Additionally, they will launch their growler-centric “Uprise” campaign.  Until the next major update, have a look at some of the photos taken this past weekend.  The rest can be seen in our Facebook page.

Side note: the Pho at Phonatik can take on any Pho establishment in Northern Virginia, Maryland and Washington DC.

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Hidden Gems in DC – Gravelly Point Park



Where else can you capture light trails of incoming airplanes, cars on the George Washington Memorial Parkway as well as the Washington Memorial.  Gravelly Point Park, in my opinion is one of the nation’s hidden gems.  Between locals, tourists, plane spotters, jogger and cyclist passerbys, the park technically is frequented quite often.  It even has a healthy amount of Yelp reviews.  However, for the enthusiast behind a camera, I call this a goldmine for capturing a serene moment.  Stay tuned for the next hidden gem in DC.