While employed as director of a senior center, Alexis Abramson encountered many seniors struggling with daily activities like holding their playing cards, reading their crossword puzzles, even dialing their phones. Concluding that if the environment right outside her office wasn't senior-friendly, then society must be no different, Abramson, who has a master's degree in gerontology, left her job and went on a quest to find products that would facilitate seniors' everyday living. With $50,000 in family contributions, she tracked down a multitude of distributors scattered nationwide and launched www.maturemart.com in 1995, a gutsy move to make in a time before "e-commerce" was even a word and when Internet retail hadn't yet seen its Amazon.coms.
"We didn't really have the resources to do any market research," says Abramson. "So we just put [the products] on the Internet."
It worked. Offering more than 250 products, the site received 40,000 hits in its first month. Today, Atlanta-based Mature Mart Inc. distributes through a variety of channels, including drug stores, catalogs and cable shopping networks, and expects 1999 sales of $5 million. "I always felt I had to be an advocate for seniors," says Abramson. "Now I'm turning my passion into a profit."