Oblivion Comics & Coffee announced as winner of 2016 Calling All Dreamers competition

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Grand prize business start-up package valued at more than $100,000 with a $10,000 cash prize

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (June 27, 2016)Downtown Sacramento Foundation (DSF) today announced Oblivion Comics & Coffee as the winner of the 2016 Calling All Dreamers competition. Co-owners Laura Benson and Neil Estaris were one of five finalists and 34 total business plans submitted this year.

Oblivion Comics & Coffee will feature new, vintage and independent comics, paired with craft coffee from Chocolate Fish and artisanal toast. Inspired by the DC Comic universe’s Oblivion Bar, a neutral space where superheroes and villains coincide peacefully, Oblivion Comics & Coffee will be a real, modern day safe-haven for comic lovers and coffee connoisseurs, alike.

“Each year, we are impressed by the caliber of business concepts submitted, and this year was no exception,” said Valerie Mamone-Werder, senior manager of business development at Downtown Sacramento Partnership (DSP). “This year saw the most viable business plans, making it one of the toughest selection processes, but after careful consideration of each finalist’s plan, market potential and financial longevity, Oblivion Comics & Coffee stood out as the most unique addition to downtown’s current mix of diverse retail.

Although it is only one of many selection categories considered, Oblivion Comics & Coffee received a high majority of the more than 2,800 votes cast during the public voting period held in May.

“We are ecstatic the Downtown Sacramento Foundation agrees Oblivion will add to the unique vibe of downtown Sacramento,” said Benson. “Sharing Oblivion with everyone is the best part. We’ve had so many people reach out to us saying how much they want Oblivion to open, that they’ve been looking for a place just like it. It feels amazing to be able to provide this place for them and we’re crazy excited to connect the community of geeks and coffee lovers.”

“We can’t wait to finally transition from pen and paper to brick and mortar,” said Estaris. “Next we get to choose which location suits us the best. We’re looking at a few really cool options downtown and want to make sure we take the time to find the perfect space.”

Upon choosing a storefront in the 66-block downtown district, Benson and Estaris will be awarded a start-up incentive package valued at $110,000 that includes a combination of in-kind services and cash donations from contest sponsors to be used toward opening their shop in the downtown district.

Working closely with the DSF selection committee and downtown property owners, Benson and Estaris are considering a few storefront locations in the heart of downtown, near The Kay. Once a location is secured, they can begin taking advantage of the other start-up package prizes.

GRAND PRIZE PACKAGE

The 2016 Business Start-up Prize Package is valued more than $100,000 and includes a $10,000 cash prize in matching funds and a suite of business support services:

  • $10,000 in start-up capital (matching funds)
  • Up to six months free rent for a downtown storefront selected from several retail spaces within the downtown district
  • Up to $10,000 in labor and services from MarketOne Builders to make the new space a perfect fit
  • Brand development from MeringCarson
  • Up to 25 hours of business and real estate-related transactional legal services from Smith, McDowell & Powell (SMP)
  • Website and dynamic digital presence from Blanket Marketing Group
  • Interior design consultation from LJ2 Interiors
  • Point of sale hardware provided by POS Portal 
  • Up to 15 hours of accounting consult related to financial and business operations from Brown, Fink, Boyce and Astle, LLP
  • Three-month advertising campaign in Inside Publications’leading community-centric newspapers in the Sacramento area
  • Consumer-focused media and public relations support from T-Rock Communications 
  • One year free phone and internet services, or a donation of $2,500 dependent on the storefront location, from Consolidated Communications
  • Semi-finalists are paired with a SCOREmentor – a seasoned business professional to provide guidance and help refine business strategies throughout the competition and after
  • Set of business cards and graphic flyers from TDogg Studios

ECONOMIC IMPACT

Since the program’s inception in 2013, the Calling All Dreamers competition has helped turn entrepreneurial vision into reality by offering a variety of resources and tools to help entrepreneurs navigate the challenges of their first year in business.

To date, the Calling All Dreamers competition has helped launch 11 new businesses in downtown Sacramento, either through the grand prize or continued support after the competition. In all, they have leased more than 13,500 sq. ft. of retail space and created 13 full-time and 53 part-time jobs. New businesses include Andy’s Candy ApothecaryThe Dailey MethodAna AppleAllspiceryFigs and FetaSun & SoilOff the Chain Bike Bus ToursMetro JuiceBenjamins ShoesThe Workspace: Fashion Incubator, and Whired Wine.

The 2016 Calling All Dreamers competition is made possible by the generous support of the following sponsors who continue to be champions for the economic growth of the downtown core and the Sacramento region: The City of Sacramento Economic Development Department; SMUD; MeringCarson; Consolidated Communications; Blanket Marketing; LJ2; Wells Fargo; Market One Builders; Smith, Mc Dowell & Powell, A Law Corporation; BFBA; POS Portal; Inside Publications; TDogg Studios; and T-Rock Communications.

For more about the competition and grand prizewinner, Oblivion Comics & Coffee, visit www.callingalldreamers.org. All media inquiries, please contact Jordyn Anderson at janderson@downtownsac.org.

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About Downtown Sacramento Foundation

Downtown Sacramento Foundation (DSF) is a nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization dedicated to support and foster civic pride through cultural, social, economic and physical improvements in downtown Sacramento.