May 20, 2011 // Franchising.com // KOTZEBUE, Alaska – In the northwest region of Alaska, the Kobuk 440 is more than just a 400-mile sled dog race; it's a 25-year old tradition that brings goodwill and festivity to many native Alaskan communities. Every year during the second weekend of April, the mushers give out 200 Easter baskets to young children gathered to greet them at seven village checkpoints. This year, ColorTyme owner Mark Childers heightened the tradition by purchasing the baskets as well as giving away a laptop computer for the older kids at each location.
"It's a real celebration up there when this goes on, and we're just glad to be a part of it. A lot of the older kids sort of lose interest or outgrow it after a while; this was a way to keep it interesting for them too," said Childers. "I was very happy to sponsor the Easter basket and laptop raffles. It was a very cool way to be involved."
Although he trained for the race, a family emergency prevented Childers from competing this year. However, Childers is confident that another year of training will allow him to take on the Kobuk in 2012 and the Iditarod in 2013. "This just wasn't my year. I really wanted it, but it just wasn't meant to be. This gives me another year to prepare," he said. "People ask me why I do it, and I have to say, this is beautiful country and there are a lot of ways to see it. For me, I can't think of a better way to see it than from a sled behind some good dogs."
Continuously a part of the ColorTyme system since 1985 and named "Top New Franchisee" in 2006, Childers owns three rent-to-own stores in Alaska and two in the state of Washington. In 2008, he and his wife Tracy were named "Franchisee of the Year", and his company, Right Now Mgmt, held the number one spot in ColorTyme's Top Ten franchise ranking in 2008 as well as in 2010. In ColorTyme's Big Five ranking, Childers held the number five spot in 2009 and the number four spot in 2010. He currently serves as chairman of the ColorTyme Franchise Advisory Council.
ColorTyme, Inc., founded in 1979, is America's oldest franchisor of independently owned-and-operated rent-to-own stores. ColorTyme franchisees operate 191 rent-to-own stores in 32 states, and the company's custom-wheels-and-tires franchise brand, RimTyme, operates 20 stores in 11 states. ColorTyme is headquartered in Plano, Texas, and is an independent, wholly owned subsidiary of the largest RTO company in the world, Rent-A-Center (NASDAQ: RCII).