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Sara Ketcham has come a long way in the outdoor amusement industry since her start in the business when she was just 10 years old. Ketcham currently owns two games of her own: a ring a duck game and a drag a fish game. Additionally, Ketcham is a full partner in food and game concessions with her parents, John and Dee, who started Ketcham Concessions.
Sara Ketcham's parents met on the road when her father was working for his uncle and her mother was working for a family friend. After a v
ery brief period together, the couple married and started with just one joint that they worked together. The Ketchams began working for S&S Amusements from Pennsylvania.
Ketcham started working in her parents' water race game when she was just 10 years old. The Ketchams had a house in Pennsylvania where she stayed to go to school; she would come out to help on the weekends and on school breaks. "I was always given a choice and I always chose to come out and work," says Ketcham. Eventually, as the business grew, the Ketchams sold their house and went full time on the road.
According to Ketcham, the time came when she was considering moving on in the industry on her own, but, she and her parents decided that working together would be better than splitting up as they each have different strengths they bring to the team. "Staying together enabled us to grow a lot stronger," says Ketcham.
Ketcham Concessions travels almost exclusively with Wade Shows on their second unit route and then goes with the show when their units combine for the South Florida Fair, the Florida State Fair and the Central Florida Fair. One exception occurs when Ketcham takes the bacon stand to the Meadowlands Fair in New Jersey. Depending on the spot, Ketcham Concessions will set up anywhere from 6-10 games at a time.
Sara Ketcham is involved in every aspect of the business. Alongside her mother, she helps with hiring new employees and making sure they have adequate staffing for each spot. On a day to day basis Sara focuses on merchandising and inventory. She also helps with driving from place to place and says she often will pull 2 loads each move.
As a young member of the outdoor amusement industry, Ketcham is always looking for ways to streamline and simplify her business. When asked about new technology she includes in her game and food operations, Ketcham mentioned that she has an easier time modernizing her food operations than her games; "You really need to be able to go with the flow out here on the road, especially with games," says Ketcham.
Using new apps and technology works a lot better in food stands. Ketcham uses the Square cash system for her registers and credit card processing. One of the benefits of the Square cash system is the ability for managers to check sales updates on their phones and compare sales from year to year.
"I can look at my phone and say 'on this weekend last year we sold this much bacon let's make sure we're prepared for that this year' or 'let's cut back on this product because it didn't sell well' I've saved a lot of waste using this system," says Ketcham.
The outdoor amusement industry is a growing market for point of sale system technology and Ketcham looks forward to using new apps to streamline her business in the future."The Square company is constantly calling for feedback and more and more usable applications are coming out that can fit my needs," says Ketcham.
When asked if she has any advice for young people looking to make a name for themselves in the outdoor amusement industry, Ketcham says to always be the hardest worker: first one out and last one to go home. She has found that treating others well, and approaching each day with positive energy makes all the difference on the road.
"Find an aspect of the industry that you love. Learn how to do it well, enjoy it and give it your all. I really love what I do and that makes all the difference," says Ketcham.