Alexis Abramson is just 32, but the needs of senior citizens are always on her mind. That's because Abramson's Atlanta company, Mature Mart Inc., sells products designed to help seniors with everyday living.
"I've always had an affinity and respect for mature adults," Abramson says. "My ultimate goal was simply to be an advocate for seniors. I never thought I'd be an entrepreneur." But after earning a master's degree in gerontology and working at a senior center, she changed her mind. "I saw so many [seniors] having trouble with everyday living. They had trouble holding things because of arthritis or couldn't hear when they were on the telephone," she says.
So Abramson launched a personal search for products that would enhance senior living, but the few she was able to track down were spread out from Detroit to Cincinnati to New York City. Realizing there wasn't a one-stop shopping center for such items, she compiled a database of 20,000 products from around the country and set up a Web site in 1995 to gauge interest. She got her answer in no time: The site logged 40,000 hits that month and rang up sales of $150,000 its first year.
Since then, Mature Mart has grown to several channels of national distribution, including the Internet, grocery stores, mass merchandising, and retail and catalog sales. Sales also get a boost from Abramson's monthly appearances on QVC and on NBC's Today show. Among the most popular products she sells is the Swivel Seat, a Lazy-Susan-type seat that makes getting in and out of a car simpler.
Today, Mature Mart is a family affair. Abramson's grandmother, Rose, oversees the Web site (http://www.maturemart.com) and deals with customers; Abramson's mother, Phyllis, is a vice president.
"I'm a true believer that you can turn passion into profit," Abramson says. Although she expects 1999 sales to hit $4 million, for her, it's not about the money. "I know I'm making a difference. For me, that's success."