Spring Camping Gear Checklist

Spring is finally here and it's time to get out of the house! If you'd like to do some hiking or set up a camp in the woods this weekend, there are a few things you'll need to stay comfortable on your trip.

Cold Nights in the Boise Area Call For a Good Tent

Depending on the elevation of your camp, you're probably going to face a cold night. A 4-season tent is critical to staying safe and warm. Consider checking out your local pawn shop for options. You may find thrifty camping gear to add to your supply.

Don't Skimp On the Sleeping Bag and Pad

There are plenty of mid-weight sleeping bags on the market, but if you're headed out this spring you will need a bag rated for 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Also look for a cold weather sleeping pad. Not only will this provide you with a bit more cushion, but this pad will offer thermal protection from the cold ground.

Don't Forget the Fleece

Moisture will build up inside your tent as you sleep through the night. If you're swaddled in cotton sweats, they'll get damp and you'll actually wake up colder than when you went to bed because your clothing will be wet.

Instead, load up your pack with poly fleece clothing and pack some extra fleece blankets. These will resist moisture and keep you snuggly warm, creating a warm cocoon of air between your skin and the fleece fabric.

Look For A Tent Heater

While you're checking out pawn shops for camping gear, keep an eye out for electric or propane tent heaters.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Look for a heater with the instructions included, or find the instructions on-line before you buy the heater. Propane heaters can warm up the tent before you go to bed but the restrictions on burning propane in an enclosed space MUST BE FOLLOWED.

Of course, if you plan for electric heat you'll need a space with hook-ups and an electric port in your tent. If you're planning to head deep into the woods, this option probably won't work.

Enjoy Your Trip!

Boise is a great town with a wide variety of beautiful places to hike and camp. However, the winters can be long and difficult. You can build up your stash of camping gear by keeping an eye on what's available in local pawn and second-hand shops. Invest wisely in your sleeping gear and always follow the instructions when burning propane for heat.

Do I really need a new BBQ?

Temperatures outside is going up and up, so it's time to invest in a grill. Depending on how much air conditioning it takes to keep your home comfortable, a cheap grill will pay for itself quickly. If you're looking to save some cash on your grill purchase, it is possible to get a good deal on a used BBQ, but you need to search with care.

What to Watch Out For

The biggest problem with used grills is rust. On a charcoal grill, rust is pretty straightforward. You may see it on the outside of the kettle or near the rivets. Inside, the grate may be rusty or even the inside of the bowl.

If you're getting a great deal and don't mind putting in some elbow grease, you can clean up the rust on an outdoor grill. Another option is to simply keep the base and cover and just replace the grate. Using the grill as-is won't work. You will need to clean up the grate before putting food on it.

Gas Grills

There are some hazards in buying a used gas grill. Corrosion hides inside the gas burner and may not be evident until you fire it up and the whole burner crumbles into dust. You can replace this burner, but it takes some skill and may end badly if you don't get it hooked up correctly. However, if you get a very good deal and are willing to learn, you may be able to save a used gas grill.

When shopping for a used gas grill, bring your own propane tank and test drive it. If the seller won't allow that, don't buy the grill.

Where To Shop?

There are several places to buy a used BBQ. In addition to Facebook groups and Craig's List, be sure to check out pawn shops. In fact, because the pawn shop owner needs to check out the grill before they put it up for sale, you will likely find grills in much better shape than at a yard or estate sale.

Final Thoughts

A new grill will come to you in a box and you'll need to put in some assembly time to get it up and running. A used grill will likely come to you fully assembled, but the onus is on the buyer to check out the unit and make sure it's a good investment.

Buying a Used Bike? What to Look For

Living in Idaho means you probably know a thing or two about enjoying the outdoors.

You have your camping gear, fishing gear, or your outdoor cooking gear, but you're missing your bike. Those thinking about getting a used bike may want to know what to look for when buying one.

The Frame Inspection

When searching for a used bike, do not overlook its frame or the fork. You want to inspect the frame and fork because these are like the foundation of your bike. They are also one of the only parts of a bike that cannot be replaced.

So, if you really want your bike to provide long-term Boise biking, inspect and look for the following signs of a damaged frame or fork before making your purchase:

You may also want to look for bubbling under the paint of the bike because this could be telling you that there is some corrosion under there. It may even be a good idea to test your bike to make sure it can stay straight while riding.

Examine the Steerer and Headset

The headset is usually not too expensive to replace, but you should still check it because it is an expense you can avoid. What you want to do is press down on the brakes of the bike, and move the bike back and forth. You do not want to hear any knocking coming from the headset.

If you're thinking of getting a carbon steerer, take the following steps:

1. Remove the fork from the bike.
2. Look for corrosion around the crown or any other questionable issues.
3. Put the fork back.
4. Lift the front of the bike, and let the handlebars swing. Handlebars that stay put may have a problem.

A Closer Look at the Drivetrain

The drivetrain is another area you should check before purchasing a bike. Most people inspect the chain, but some do not know how to do it effectively. The following steps will help you check the chain:

1. Place the bike on a chainring with the largest rear cog.
2. Try to stretch the chain.
3. A chain that doesn't give much is okay, but a chain that gives too much may be a problem. More than 1/2 inch of space gap is no good.

You can always have your bike serviced if you feel like this is the bike for you because fixing it shouldn't be a big deal.

Wheel and Tire Check

Checking your bike's wheels is important because it could mean the difference between using it now or waiting until the wheels are fixed.

Check the following:

1. Lift the wheel (one at a time).
2. Spin the lifted wheel to check for wobbling. A millimeter of wobbling is okay, but anything more than that is not good.

You can check the tire by simply feeling it, making sure no air escapes. If the tire needs to be replaced, do so, and you'll be ready for some Boise biking.

Of course, these are just some of the things you need to inspect when purchasing a used bike. You should also make sure your brakes are working properly, or have them serviced if you want. Hopefully, some of these tips make your bike hunting more effective.

What's my stuff worth??

Besides providing customers with an exciting way to discover appealing products, pawn shops allow clients to receive quick payments for their unwanted goods. The convenience and ease of bringing an item in, receiving a quote, and leaving with cash in-hand cannot be understated. This process is a lot simpler and more straightforward than the in-depth steps associated with selling online!

With that said, anyone who's considering selling an item to a pawn shop should develop an idea of said item's value beforehand—that is, before entering the shop. Negotiation is a fun and engaging part of the pawn shop experience, but unreasonable negotiation—negotiation wherein one party pushes a price that's far outside of the market value—will put a damper on the process and reduce the odds of a deal being made.

In short, the best way to turn unwanted items into cash (and/or wanted items) is by researching their value prior to heading to a pawn shop.

To help pawn shop customers receive the best value and have positive selling experiences, let's take a look at some effective ways to determine the value of today's hottest goods!


Today's jewelry market is going strong, but there's so much variety and diversity—in style, materials, and quality—that it can be hard to figure out precisely how much a piece is worth.

For newer pieces, it's recommended that a jewelry valuation website be used. By calculating the value of an item's precious metals and stones, these sites can provide a ballpark pricing estimate. Importantly, these estimates don't account for aesthetic quality; certain jewelry items are worth significantly more than their materials.

To expand upon this point, many vintage jewelry items can fetch a sizable sum on the free market. It'd be wise to market these pieces as antiques—not raw materials. For noteworthy products, a quick Ebay search—filtered to show "sold" items—should produce a reliable pricing model.


Firearms are a bit harder to pinpoint, in terms of value, because they cannot be sold on as many online marketplaces. Geographic considerations affect the value of firearms, but generally, the bluebook of firearm values can help pawn clients to develop their bottom line.

Like vintage jewelry, vintage firearms are a different story; perform ample research before letting an old firearm go.


Electronics are perhaps the easiest items to value. Search for an item on Ebay, filter the results to "sold," and a rough estimation of said item's market value will be produced.

Remember that Ebay sales are subject to 20 percent fees, though, and be sure to verify that a listing's condition matches the condition of the item that will be sold at a pawn shop. Obviously, used items fetch lower prices than new items.

Musical Instruments

Musical instruments can be difficult to price; an item's value is determined almost exclusively by its appeal to other musicians. As such, it's up to the seller to know what his or her item is worth.

Forget about how much was paid for this item—musical instruments are always depreciating—and perform a quick online search to learn about the base instrument's—meaning without considering its extras and modifications—value. Then, factor in condition and any improvements, attachments, or repairs that have been made, each of which will boost the value.

Use these factors to think of a fair sales price, but don't lose sight of the fact that musical instruments' pricing is subjective.

Sporting Goods

Last but certainly not least, the value of sporting goods is fairly easy to figure out. Ebay's sold items section is once again the best way to do so, but with sports equipment, condition is everything. Don't think of well-used baseball glove as two notches below new, condition-wise; think about how interested another player will be to use it in a game!

These tips are sure to make selling at a pawn shop easy, straightforward, and fun. Remember that pawn professionals will need to pay a bit less than an item's market value in order to turn a profit. Also, bear in mind that bargaining for goods—not just cash—can sometimes be more rewarding than attempting to sell an item outright.

And don't think twice about visiting Vista Pawn for all your buying, selling, and trading needs! We have locations in Boise, Nampa, and Mountain Home, and we'd be honored if you would "Come explore with us!"

What Can I Use a Pawn Loan For?

Pawn loans offer you a way to get money when you need it, without worrying about whether your credit score is good enough or not.

But, what can you use a pawn loan for?

The answer is anything. The money is yours to do with as you wish!


Who Gets Pawn Loans and Why?

Anyone and everyone can get a pawn loan.  A lot of people, in many different situations, use pawn loans as a way of getting money for any number of reasons including the following.

An entrepreneur needs a bit of cash to start a business.

These are just a few reasons why people get loans at a pawn shop.


Advantages of a Pawn Loan

Pawn loans offer certain advantages over the more traditional types of loans, which is why they are popular options for a lot of people.

If you need a pawn loan, stop by Vista Pawn. We have shops in Boise, Nampa, and Mountain Home with convenient hours.

Come explore your financial options with us!

History of Pawn Shops

History of Pawn Shops

Whether your first introduction to a pawn shop is with Vista Pawn, Pawn Stars on the History Channel, or when you’ve purchased or pawned something yourself--pawn shops have been around for centuries.


What is a Pawn Shop?

The need for money has been around since currency has existed. People need money for a variety of reasons, but in emergencies, that money may not be available. Pawn shops allow people to “pawn” an item of value to a pawnbroker who in turn gives them money for the item. If the person who pawned the item returns to retrieve the item, they pay the money back plus a small fee at a later date and receive their item back. After a certain amount of time, the item becomes the property of the pawn shop who is free to do with it as they wish. In the United States alone, there are over 12,000 pawn shops in existence.


The Evolution of the Pawn Shop

The origins of pawn shops have their roots in Ancient China about 3,000 years ago. Pawnbrokers, often working independently, would offer short-term credit to peasants.

This trend continued until the civilizations of Ancient Greece and Rome made this concept more mainstream. Citizens would seek start-up income to begin businesses. These new owners would pay back their collateral and interest once their businesses took off.

In the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church began to place limits on charging citizens interest which halted the development of pawn shops. Once pawnbrokers were able to prove to the Church that short-term credit was an extremely viable way of financing start-up endeavors and by giving temporary aid to the poor, these restrictions were relaxed.

Pawn shops have made their way into history as well. In 1388, England’s King Edward III pawned the royal jewels to finance the war against France. It’s also said that Christopher Columbus’ expeditions were financed through the pawning of Queen Isabella of Spain’s jewelry.

It wasn’t just for the wealthy, pawn shops in the 19th century were being used mainly by the poor. It was common practice for the poor to pawn clothes on Monday to make it through the week only to get their paycheck on Friday and buy their clothes back.

The Pawnbrokers Act of 1872 created regulations that protected pawnbrokers if they mistakenly sold stolen items. These regulations were necessary and helped to set the guidelines for the pawn industry that continues today.


Today’s Pawn Shops

Throughout the depression, pawn shops were the only place in America that was offering money. Banks had failed and people needed money. This option for the citizens of the US hasn’t changed much since then. Towns of all sizes and populations have pawn shops that help provide money to those in need and offer a great variety of products that people want.

These mini-banks trade in unique and rare items including musical instruments, collectibles, and electronics. While some may have a negative connotation of what a pawn shop is, it’s undeniable their place in society and history. Established in 1988, the National Pawnbrokers Association argued just that fact. They make sure that pawn shops uphold pawn contracts and the interest that is accrued. Items are registered to ensure they’re not stolen.

The popularity of pawn shops has increased since shows on television began to show the daily ins and outs of these businesses. Holders of history, antiquities, jewelry, and furniture--pawn shops will always be the place for everyone, anywhere.


Vista Pawn

While we haven’t been in business for centuries, we have been around for over 20 years! Located in one of the most beautiful locations on Earth, southwest Idaho, Vista Pawn’s four locations are here for your needs.

What's The Best Way To Sell Your Items? Pawn Shops, eBay, Or Craigslist

What's The Best Way To Sell Your Items: Pawn Shops, eBay, Or Craigslist?

If your house is filled with old items that you don’t use anymore or stuff you simply don’t want, you have a lot of options on how to get rid of them. A lot of people like to sell their old items because they not only do they get their house cleaned out, but they can also make some extra cash. There are a few ways to your old stuff. The three most common ways are eBay, selling locally, and pawn shops. Here are a few pros and cons of each.



Since eBay hit the internet in the late 90s by founder Pierre Omidyar, it has become one of the top places for people to sell all sorts of stuff, from vintage toys to collectibles and antiques. eBay makes it easy to set up a seller’s account that links seamlessly with Paypal. The biggest benefit to selling on eBay is that they get a massive amount of traffic, so your listings are going to be seen by a lot of potential buyers.

However, getting an item listed can be cumbersome since the user needs to take pictures, write an accurate description, figure out pricing, and what shipping method to use. This means that listing a single item can take at least ten to twenty minutes. You’ll also be paying selling fees to both eBay and Paypal, which can quickly eat into your profits. Further, eBay favors the buyer if there’s a dispute. Sellers can fall victim to scams with little recourse, leaving them without their money and sometimes without the item being returned.



Craigslist popular with people looking to sell stuff locally. This is a very do-it-yourself approach to selling because there is no middleman like eBay to help facilitate the sale. When you sell locally, you and the buyer agree on a price (there’s probably going to be some haggling) and then arrange to meet to finish the transaction. This method eliminates any fees because you are selling directly to the buyer. You can also get cash for your item, which means you have the money instantly, no waiting for payments to clear.

But selling locally brings on its own set of problems. First, you’re meeting a complete stranger to do a cash transaction. This isn’t always safe and people have been robbed in the process. You can minimize your risk by meeting in a public area, but the risk never completely goes away. Also, sometimes buyers are flaky and might not show up. Craigslist buyers are notorious for disappearing like this and leaving the seller in limbo.


Pawn Shops

Pawn shops have been around for centuries. In fact, they are the oldest form of lending money, dating back to ancient China. The premise is that you bring an item in, they estimate its worth, and then lends you money based on that amount. However, if you’re not looking for a loan and just want to sell your old stuff, these shops also have you covered.

In a way, these types of stores represent the best of eBay and local selling. They are an established business with a large customer base, and they will pay you cash for your items. You don’t pay any fees, nor do you have to meet a complete stranger who may or may not rob you. Many of these shops will also allow you to trade items. For example, if you have an acoustic guitar, but decide you want to play the electric guitar, you can trade your acoustic in for an electric, only paying the difference, if there is one.


The only downside is you might not get the best price. Since they want to resell your item, they’ll pay less than what you can get by selling it yourself. That said, they are a tried and true way to get money without dealing with strangers off the street or paying the high fees that eBay charges.

How Pawn Loans Work

If you have ever found yourself in a financial bind or just need some fast cash, obtaining the money you need to pay bills or to cover living expenses can quickly become stressful and at times, overwhelming. Whether you are simply in need of cash quickly or if you do not have a great credit score, consider the option of taking out a loan from a local pawn shop near you.

Pawn Loan Basics

While pawn shops make some of their living by selling items such as gold, electronics, and collectible items, they also offer "pawn loan" services. Pawn loans allow customers to offer collateral in the form of an item that is considered valuable by those running the pawn shop. The item is then kept at the pawn shop while the customer is provided cash along with a pawn loan ticket and the due date for the total amount owed on the loan.

When taking out a pawn loan it is important to keep in mind that you are also responsible for any interest that incurs throughout the duration of your loan. Before agreeing to a pawn loan, be sure to inquire about the terms and conditions along with payment deadlines, extension opportunities, and renewals (if available).

Talk with the pawn shop employee you are working with to learn more about items they are searching for and what is most in-demand throughout their shop individually. The more familiar you are with your local pawn shop of choice, the easier it is to obtain the money you need when you are using collateral in exchange for a loan.


Extensions on pawn loans are often available but vary with each pawn shop. If you are unable to pay a loan back in a timely manner, you may have the option of renewing your loan completely after paying any interest owed on the original loan first. Once the original interest is paid in full, a new extension may be granted without the risk of losing your collateral in default.

Pawn Loan Renewals

While not all pawn shops offer renewals, some do. Pawn loan renewals are possible if you have paid off what you originally owed on your collateral, but are seeking additional cash to cover finances a second time. In many cases, pawn shops will agree to keep your item and renew your loan under the same terms and conditions while also providing you with cash in hand immediately.

How Appraisals Work

Any time you take an item to use as collateral to a pawn shop you are likely to receive a wide range of estimates and appraisals. Some pawn shops focus solely on gold and jewelry, allowing them to maximize profits and may offer less money for other items such as electronics or music equipment. Pawn shop owners research blue book and retail value of items before providing you with an appraisal which is most likely much less than the original cost of the item. Consider the type of items the pawn shop you are interested in using to obtain a pawn loan carries.

How to Get a Quote

Although it is possible to get a general quote for the items you want to use for collateral online or over the phone, shop owners will want to inspect items in-person to ensure they are in working condition (especially for electronics) and that they are legitimate and authentic. Once your collateral has been inspected and researched you are likely to receive an appraisal based on its surrounding industry and market demand.

What to Pawn?

Deciding on what to pawn when you are in need of cash quick is extremely overwhelming, especially if you are unsure of where to begin. Most pawn shops welcome everything from gold and silver jewelry to guns, collectibles, and working electronics. If you are thinking of pawning jewelry you own, verify its value and the type of gold or silver you have by visiting a local jewelry shop prior to taking out a pawn shop loan. Keep in mind, however, that pawn shops are in business to make money and minimize their risk, so the cash you are able to get may be less than what the item is actually worth.

What Shouldn't You Pawn?

When you are searching for a pawn shop loan but you do not have much time, avoid using out-dated or junky items as collateral. Not all pawn shops are willing to provide loans for just any item brought into the store, which is why it is essential to conduct a bit of research on various items you have available to use for collateral before making your decision. We would also advise you to not pawn items with lots of sentimental value if possible.

Using a pawn shop loan is ideal when you are in a time crunch and in need of cash fast. With the right collateral and the ability to pay back your loan in a timely manner, taking advantage of pawnshop loans allows you to remain above water financially anytime you are in need without credit checks or other hassles.