Categorized | Shoestring Startup

Raising The Dead

Raising The Dead

Bill & Sylvia Blimes

My name is Sylvia Blimes and my husband Bill and I run a unique start-on-a-shoestring business. We raise people from the dead; or to be more accurate, we find dead people. Maybe you are looking for your great-great grandpa Joe or you just want to know if those family stories about being descended from George Washington or Lady Godiva are true. Either way, Legacy Locators can bring long gone ancestry back to life: names, dates, relations and personal stories.

Being brainwashed by genealogy addicted mothers has given us the dedication and enthusiasm which are much more important for success in this business than a large start-up bank account. Bill spent much of his life with his mother haunting the cemeteries in Virginia and Ohio, while my mother took me to the LDS Family History Library in Salt Lake City to stare at rolls of microfilm until my eyes refused to focus.

Now we own Legacy Locators, a professional family history business. After getting our county license in February, 2009, at the cost of $110 (which we later learned was free for seniors) we never looked back. Well, genealogists always look back; only genealogists regard a step backwards as progress. With the popularity of programs such as “Who Do You Think You Are?” and “Ancestors in the Attic”, there has been a great resurgence of interest in learning who our ancestors are. Legacy Locators helps fill this very specific but very real business niche.

Genealogy database subscriptions for $425 have been our only expenses as we use our personal cell phones and computers and work from the comfort of our home and our favorite recliners. Our main marketing tools include a genealogy blog, which is free at, a website, which is also free, it was extremely easy and fun to create at, our free Facebook Legacy Locators page….. For a total outlay of $535. Our greatest marketing tool however, has been referrals. Published testimonials such as this one provided by Margaret Ann-Seus can be posted online or by email. “My family had come to an impasse trying to trace our ancestors previous to the 1850s. Bill and Sylvia were able to trace our history back to the 1500s and were able to find pictures and stories that gave us insight into who our ancestors were and the types of lives they had lived. I can’t thank Legacy Locators enough for giving my family the ability to better know who we are and where we came from.” Testimonials provide the backbone of our advertising and satisfied customers are happy to supply them at no cost.

Learning how to give customer satisfaction has been our greatest asset and has made our business very popular with clients. One of the things we decided early on was to provide a free preliminary search to assure each client (and us) that records can be found. This helps us to know how difficult the search will be and what reasonable price to quote for individual projects. If a client is not satisfied with their project results, he is not charged. It was scary at first to offer to work for free but a preliminary search only takes about an hour and clients are always impressed with what we send them about their ancestors. There has only been one time that we could not locate anything which helped us to know that we did not want to take on that project. A preliminary search costs us nothing but a small amount of our time and, of course, we offer to let them keep that bit of information whether they choose to have us continue or not. Most of them hire us to search for more ancestral names, dates and stories. The goodwill that this creates lets our clients know that we care about locating documents to verify the names we find are truly related to them. Clients are pleased to have a company that will consult with them and take their search seriously.

Stories about those who have gone before are the focus of this enterprise and are basic to our success. The decision to add personal stories was easily made after Bill and I visited the ruins of Wigmore Castle in England where his 30th great grandfather once dwelled. The stirrings that Bill felt still cause him to shiver when he relates this experience. “As I sat high on that hill, alone among the ruins of the castle keep, I imagined I could hear the voices of my ancestors. A great sense of history filled my mind and lifted me into those long ago days. As I walked down the hill through the ruins of walls, towers, moats, and living spaces, I kept looking back, feeling a sorrow at leaving that I couldn’t comprehend.” The success of Legacy Locators has grown from our ability to give clients a bonding experience between modern family members and their ancient dead. That is what people are willing to pay us to provide.

Since Bill and I are currently retired, we use our business income to supplement our social security. Our goal is to build Legacy Locators into a saleable business within the next two years. Then, we will really retire; or maybe we’ll just start another adventure—on a shoestring, of course!

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