"Last year, someone wanted a February event, and the first thing we thought of was Valentine's Day and chocolate."

Chocoholics and shopoholics rejoice, for next Thursday presents an opportunity to indulge in both.

McPherson businesses are putting on its second Shopolate event from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday. For a $10 ticket, participants can sample chocolate treats and special sales at local participating businesses.

"Every month we have a merchant meeting about how to promote businesses," said Ann Engel, director of McPherson Main Street. "Last year, someone wanted a February event, and the first thing we thought of was Valentine's Day and chocolate."

Last year's inaugural event sold just 50 tickets. This year, that number has been doubled to 100.

Participating businesses include ArtShirt-Gear for Sport, Brooklyn & Co., Nooks & Crannies Floral, Stupka Chiropractic & Wellness Center, The Cook's Nook, The Village Geek, Twice Told Tales, CT Fit24, Venable Jewelers, Legacy Eyecare, and Hopp's Sound & Electric.

Participants will be able to visit businesses and sample various types of chocolate while checking out exclusive deals. They will also be eligible to win a Valentine's Day prize pack, which includes:

A two-night stay at Holiday Inn Express, Days Inn or Best Western Two tickets to the McPherson Opera House's presentation of "My Funny Valentine" A meal for two at Delish Floral bouquet from Nooks & Crannies Floral Fine chocolates from The Cook's Nook A necklace from Venable Jewelers Scented candle from Brooklyn & Co. Breakfast at Daylight Donuts A $50 gift certificate to Knackies sponsored by MTC Valentine throw & Cuddle Buddy from McPherson Main Street Wine bag, wine, cheese and cracker selection from Bello Capelli Salon, Jen Bonham and Sheryl Dossett A one-hour trolley rental for up to 22 passengers from the McPherson Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Tickets are available at McPherson Main Street, 306 N. Main St., McPherson. For more information, call 620-241-7430.

"The biggest struggle we have is fighting misconceptions about local businesses," Engel said. "People think they won't find what they're looking for, or that it will cost more. But when we get people into the stores, they can really see what they have to offer and that it's at a reasonable price."