ARLINGTON -- Three months ago, the Rangers and Comerica Bank announced the Comerica Call-Up Contest, which was created to support women and minority-owned businesses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It gave businesses a chance to apply for their chance to enter into an advertising partnership with the Rangers in 2022.
The contest is a follow-up to the Rally Back contest in 2020, which helped small businesses overcome financial struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic
On Wednesday, the Rangers and Comerica announced the 2021 grand prize winner: Dallas-based chocolate store CocoAndre Chocolatier. The business was first opened in 2009 by mother-daughter duo Cindy and Andrea Pedraza and has been located in Oak Cliff since 2014.
CocoAndre Chocolatier will receive advertising and marketing support on the Rangers’ social channels, the Rangers' Radio Network and in the Rangers’ 2022 game program.
“CocoAndre Chocolatier is more than just chocolate, it’s a bond that we’ve created with our customers that have become some of our best friends,” said Cindy Pedraza. “The friendships and bonds that we’ve created over the years are priceless and that is the fuel that keeps us going. At the end of the day we are like the Rangers -- a team that together has become legendary and respected in the Hispanic Community.”
Cindy said that when she got the email about the grant possibility, she immediately applied in hopes of connecting with the Rangers and the community. Having always been a fan of the club, it was a surreal feeling to even be considered a finalist for the grant.
The contest was evaluated by a panel of judges, all of whom considered originality and creativity, as well as the obstacles the business had to overcome within the last year and the connection to its surrounding community.
CocoAndre Chocolatier also uses its main location to offer a place for other local businesses that do not have full shops to host pop-ups and showcase up-and-coming brands.
“For a Latina-owned business, funding has always been the hardest part,” Cindy said. “Those are the realities when you're a small business -- that money might just stop, and then you have to figure it out again. We are always trying to figure out the next step. Never get comfortable and keep going. Because just because you had a win today, you don't know what tomorrow will bring, especially in these times.”
The first runner-up was Cornbread Hustle, a staffing agency that offers those with a criminal history and recovering addicts an education and transformation program to get them back on their feet. The second runner-up was Fort Worth business Game Theory, which combines the experience of a bar setting with board games to encourage people to interact and stay off their phones.
Both will receive a social media post on the Rangers’ channels and tickets to a game at Globe Life Field.
“It's inspirational, frankly, what businesses have gone through and to hear about the obstacles they've overcome and to hear how resilient they are,” said Comerica’s national director of retail and small business banking Rhonda Davenport Johnson. “The stories were inspirational, they were impactful. The businesses that were highlighted today, it's a shame that we cannot pick all three of them. But what's wonderful is that they are making such a difference in their communities. And they all have such passion for the work that they do.”