Winner of free comic book store competition announced

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Three months ago we met Carmelo Chimera, the owner of Chimera's Comics in Oak Lawn.

"I'm going to give away my Oak Lawn store, the entire business. Kind of like Willy Wonka right, I'm going to give away the inventory, the fixtures, the equipment and the six years of good will that come with it," Chimera said.

He held an essay competition, hoping to find a new owner. Now more than three months and 700 essays later...he's got one.

Chris Cavanaugh was a customer at the store way before the competition even started.

So, he decided to enter just because... but he didn't think he'd actually get it.

"Does anyone really think they're going to win this?" Cavanaugh said. "It's so odd to win a comic shop, so I'm just like 'there's got to be somebody way more qualified than me, right?' but it just happens."

Cavanaugh said doesn't plan to change too much about the store, just yet, but he does want to try something new.

"As quickly as possible open some sort of charity that could work with the local hospital. I don't know what the libraries in hospitals are like but I'd love to get comics and other related media to them," Cavanaugh said.

As a new local businessman, Chris said he believes it's necessary to love the community that you're in. That's why he wants to give back in the best way he knows how.

That same community-focused mindset is also what paved the way for Chimera's newest project.

"The vision is to have a store that is staffed by underprivileged youth on the South Side," Chimera said.

Graduate student, Patti Kosobud, sparked the idea. She's getting a Master of Arts in Community Development and Action from Roosevelt University. It's a program focused on community engagement.

"When I came across the essay, I thought this would be interesting to apply from a community development perspective," Kosobud said. "Chimera's Comics is a great community asset for Oak Lawn, how do we leverage that asset and make sure that the store, no matter who the owner is, continues to provide that community benefit?"

Kosobud's unique take on the essay, grabbed Chimera's attention. So the two decided to join forces and start a non-profit comic book store to help foster a sense of community on Chicago's South Side.

Chimera said his goal is "to bring that sense of belonging to people that don't maybe always have that."

The two are still figuring out the details about the new store, but they said they hope to have it open just in time for National Comic Book Day in May of 2020.
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