Chocoholics to descend on Athens Feb. 5

·3 min read

Jan. 23—ATHENS — Chocoholics will be in their element Feb. 5 when Athens Main Street holds its ninth annual Chocolate Walk.

Participants at the event can visit 18 businesses around the courthouse square and enjoy numerous different forms of chocolate.

Tere Richardson, executive director of Athens Main Street, said the Chocolate Walk's primary goal "is to draw people into downtown and get them into our businesses."

Richardson said about 40% of the tickets sold go to visitors from places like Atlanta, Nashville and Birmingham. Athens' event is held during the slow period for businesses that comes after the holiday rush.

"People will come into their businesses that maybe perhaps haven't been in ever or in a long time. The businesses will get foot traffic that they normally wouldn't get in the January, February time frame," Richardson said.

Only 300 tickets are sold and they go on sale at noon Tuesday. According to Richardson, tickets will probably be sold out by the end of the day. Tickets are only sold online through Eventbrite and are $7 each.

On the day of the event, people who have purchased a ticket can pick them up at Athens Main Street, 107 N. Jefferson St., along with a list of participating businesses and a decorative bag for their chocolate. Ticket holders will also receive discounted items from the businesses.

Since it is near Valentine's Day, Richardson said, pairing chocolate with getting people into downtown seemed natural. Lots of couples participate in the event as a Valentine's Day activity, Richardson said.

According to Richardson, "It's not just a store-bought treat people get. The majority of the business owners will cook or fix their own treats."

Susie Wood, who works at U.G. White Mercantile, looks forward to attending the event for the first time.

"It looks so cool. Walking around the square, trying different chocolates, you get to know different stores and get chocolate out of it. It sounds so much fun," she said.

Wood plans to go with a friend from Ardmore.

Emily Brodie works at Pimentos, a boutique on the square, which has taken part in the Chocolate Walk since the beginning. Brodie said some of the items Pimentos has given out in the past are cookies and chocolate peanut butter candy.

Brodie said the store typically is not busy between Christmas and Easter. "It brings people in when it's a little slower of a time."

Amy Higginbotham, owner of Trinity's, another boutique on the square, said her shop has also taken part in the event since the beginning.

"I think it brings a different group to downtown," she said. "I know it brings in a lot of people from surrounding areas. ... It does draw a different demographic than the usual customers who come in to shop."

Higginbotham has seen lots of families and groups of friends participate in the event. "It's a fun event for groups."

Higginbotham tries to give out something that her store sells. She has given out chocolate-covered specialty popcorn before. This year, Higginbotham is going to take the cinnamon cracker mix she sells and add cocoa.

Richardson said she often sees group groups of girl friends who shop while participating in the event each year.

The proceeds from the Chocolate Walk, according to Richardson, go toward paying for the bags, printing the maps with lists of businesses, and other supplies for the event.

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