Downtown Sacramento Foundation announces Semi-Finalists in the 4th Annual Calling All Dreamers competition

SACRAMENTO, CA (April 6, 2016) – The competition to open a storefront in downtown Sacramento has heated up as the Downtown Sacramento Foundation (DSF) announced the 10 semi-finalists in the 4th annual Calling All Dreamers business competition. Organized by the Downtown Sacramento Foundation (DSF), sister organization to the Downtown Sacramento Partnership (DSP), Calling All Dreamers aims to foster Sacramento’s entrepreneurial spirit and cultivate the next generation of dreamers in Sacramento. The Shark Tank-style competition encourages entrepreneurs to compete for a coveted business start-up package valued at $100,000 that is designed to provide the winner with essential resources and helpful tools needed to successfully launch a downtown storefront.

Contestants had through March 29 to submit their applications and the10 semi-finalists were narrowed down from an impressive 34 applications. After a review and public voting period, the 2016 Calling All Dreamers winner will be announced in June 2016.

“This is undeniably one of the most exciting times in Sacramento’s history to start a business in the urban core,” said Valerie Mamone Werder, DSP senior manager of business development. “The sky is the limit for entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas who can tap into the momentum and energy focused on downtown Sacramento.”

Since the launch of the Calling All Dreamers competition in 2013, DSF has helped 11 new businesses open in downtown Sacramento. Past winners include: Andy’s Candy Apothecary, The Dailey Method, Ana Apple, and Allspicery. A testament to the power of this competition is that several contestants went on to open businesses despite not winning the grand prize. Those businesses include: Sun & Soil, Off the Chain Bike Bus Tours, Metro Juice, Benjamin’s Shoes, Whired Wine, the Workspace, and more. To date, these locally owned businesses have leased more than 15,000 sf of retail space and created approximately 10 full-time and 35-part-time jobs.

The 2016 Calling All Dreamers semi-finalists are:

Creepy Crawlies Bug Zoo

The Creepy Crawlies Bug Zoo will augment the family friendly draw of Old Sacramento. Children and families will pay to enter the Creepy Crawlies Bug Zoo to see, hold, and learn about insects through museum-like written blurbs on large terrariums, self-guided electronic tours & mobile-access to audio/visual tailored for each exhibit, or guided tours led by Zoo docents.

Cru Chocolate

Cru Chocolate will be a craft bean-to-bar chocolate maker that creates chocolate from the pure cacao bean. By using modern American technology, they will create delicious chocolate that only contains two ingredients: cacao beans and sugar cane. Cru Chocolate will offer factory tours and a retail experience in which everyone can see and learn about cacao and chocolate making. Cru Chocolate will serve cacao-inspired drinks, a curated selection of single origin coffee and espresso drinks, and will partner with local bakeries and pastry chefs to offer baked goods incorporating their chocolate.

ECU Builders

ECU Builders will design and build custom fixtures or furniture pieces that solve specific problems for their clients: like building a floating nightstand attached to the bedframe due to lack of space or cutting into stainless steel tables in order to fit rice cookers for a local restaurant. ECU Builders will focus on and support the local economy by using mostly locally-sourced materials for their projects. Because of their established relationships with local suppliers, they will build custom projects at highly competitive prices.

Gaucho 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.

Milk and Sugar Lab

Milk and Sugar Lab will sell instant handmade ice cream served with toppings. The ice cream will be prepared in front of the customer on a frozen surface that turns a milk and sugar blend into fresh ice cream. Because this method of creating ice cream is both science and art, Milk and Sugar Lab 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.

Oblivion Comics & Coffee

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. Their goal is to create a place that brings societies together not only for coffee, but for the company and atmosphere as well.

Pop Shop – Burly Beverages

Pop Shop – Burley Beverages will be an “old-timey” soda fountain, complete with soda jerks, a soda “bar,” a craft popsicle freezer, and rustic versions of shaved ice called Granita Siciliana. They will throw you back to a time when sodas were touted as tonics and elixirs. They will offer endless flavor combinations and customizable options all made without added chemicals, preservatives, extracts, or corn syrup. Their products will always be made with real food, unrefined sugars, fresh produce, and a love for the craft.

Studio Fig

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.

The Crafted Cream

The Crafted Cream will be a unique soft serve experience that borders soft serve and a contemporary dessert bar. The Crafted Cream will showcase the incredible products grown in the Sacramento region, utilizing modern techniques, textures, and flavors to highlight the bounty available in our area. Customers will be able to choose from their preconceived menu or choose from a base flavor and the toppings of their choice. The Crafted Cream will also offer coffee, espresso, and teas, along with local cold beverage options like Zeal Kombucha and Silk Road sodas.

The Dog Society

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 just a visit to just another dog boutique and salon; this business will serve as a flagship for downtown dog culture.

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; MeringCarson; Consolidated Communications; Blanket Marketing; LJ2; Wells Fargo; Market One Builders; Smith, Mc Dowell & Powell, A Law Corporation; BFBA; POS Portal; Colliers; and T-Rock Communications.


About the Downtown Sacramento Foundation
The DSF is a sister organization to the Downtown Sacramento Partnership. Established in 2011, this 501(c)3 organization is dedicated to fostering civic pride through the improvement of the social and physical environment of Downtown. The DSF provides much needed support to the Downtown Sacramento Partnership (DSP) programs that provide elevated services for public space management and beautification, homeless outreach and public safety.