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Vote for Your Favorite ‘Calling All Dreamers’ Finalist

Drum roll please…the competition to open a new storefront in downtown Sacramento is heating up and the local community is being asked to vote for their favorite business concept.

The Downtown Sacramento Foundation (DSF) announced the five finalists in the fourth annual Calling All Dreamers business competition. The public is encouraged to weigh in on which business they want to see downtown by voting online for their favorite concept at www.callingalldreamers.org, until 5 p.m., May 31.

The aspiring business owners vying to win a start-up incentive package valued at approximately $110,000 are:


Owner: Amber Dunahoo

The Dog Society will be a dog boutique and grooming salon that offers low-stress dog grooming and merchandise purchased from local vendors or crafted in-house. The Dog Society will create a central location for consumers to get their locally-made dog accessories, food, and a creative and stylish haircut. The experience at The Dog Society will go further than a visit to just another dog boutique and salon; this business will serve as a flagship for downtown dog culture.


Owner: Natalia Garcia

Gaucho Garcia will be a modern, fast-casual eatery that serves authentic South American food and drink. Gaucho Garcia’s mission is simple: they want Sacramento to fall in love with South American flavors. Specializing in the Argentine meat pie – empanadas – Gaucho Garcia will use generation-old recipes and fresh ingredients from local Sacramento farmers and purveyors.


Owners: Jason Chu, Teri Chu, James Chu

Milk and Sugar will specialize in instant handmade, rolled ice cream served with toppings. The ice cream will be prepared in front of the customer, mixed on a frozen plate that turns a milk and sugar blend into fresh ice cream that is then flattened and rolled. Because this method of creating ice cream is both science and art, Milk and Sugar will explore a sophisticated lab theme to enhance the customer experience. In return, their customers will enjoy a high-quality product made with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.


Owners: Laura Benson, Neil Estaris

Oblivion Comics & Coffee will sell comics and gourmet coffee paired with artisan toast. The store will feature new, vintage, and independent titles, along with coffee from Chocolate Fish. The shop is inspired by the DC Comic book universe’s Oblivion Bar where all superheroes and villains are equal and share the same space. Oblivion Comics & Coffee is our real, modern day safe-haven, a place in Sacramento where anyone is welcome, geek or not.


Owners: Srikanth Rao, Amal Iqbal

Studio Fig will be a lifestyle brand and design house focused on providing beautiful, high quality sustainable goods in the fields of fashion, interior home décor, and graphic design. Customers will be able to purchase off-the-shelf goods and work with their design team to design and develop bespoke items in all three areas. They have a vision of growing a lifestyle brand – right here in Sacramento – that employs local designers to use thoughtful materials and methods to create innovative products.

Over the next month, contestants will work with SCORE counselors to refine their business plans in preparation for their final pitch. The winner will be announced in June with the intent to open their business in November.



About the author

Traci Rockefeller Cusack

Traci Rockefeller Cusack has 25+ years of media and public relations experience.  Her work experience includes News10 (ABC) as Promotion Manager from 1989-1998 (where she developed and launched “Coats for Kids’ Sake,” a winter coat drive that lasted 20+ years plus coordinated Oprah Winfrey’s first ever visit to Sacramento) and Fleishman-Hillard as Vice President from 1998-2005 (where she led the wildly successful statewide “California Grown” program and also produced the five-minute video that played on the Jumbotron on Opening Day at Pac Bell Park). In 2007, she launched T-Rock Communications and currently handles a wide range of marketing activities for a number of top-notch organizations.

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