With a heritage whose origins are centuries deep, area realtor Jason Bernstein believes growing up in Athens, GA is truly a special experience. Daily, even the casual observer will glimpse the charm, character and opportunities that make this small town idyllic for so many. Such was the case in the late 1800s when Jason’s great grandparents planted their roots in the classic city. The Bernsteins, like many others, immigrated from Germany in 1876. A year later, young Selig Bernstein came to visit family in Athens and was instantly charmed. He loved the people and immediately felt at home, taking a job as a clerk in a store owned by relatives. However, it wasn’t long before his entrepreneurial spirit began to take hold of him.
As noted from the book, ‘Athens General Hospital’, published in 1969 and written by longtime Athens Historian Dr. John Hunnicutt, “Selig Bernstein (or “Mr. Berny” as he became known) came to visit Athens in 1877 at the age of 17 to visit relatives who operated a dry goods store. He worked as a clerk, but not for long. He soon became a peddler and with a pack of general merchandise on his back, he walked around selling and trading. He was successful and was able to buy a horse and wagon. He then graduated from this to his own Lively Stable business, which he operated for many years. He later opened a furniture store and funeral parlor and over time became one of Athens’ leading citizens. Upon turning his business over to his sons, he embarked on a new career. He helped organize The Peoples Bank and became its first President. He retired in 1923 and devoted much of his time to civic betterment.”
Jake Bernstein (Jason’s grandfather) and his brother Mose picked up where their father left off. Partners in what came to be known as “Bernstein Brothers Furniture and Funeral Home,” the brothers ultimately located on the corner of Broad and Spring St. in downtown Athens. They also owned an ambulance company, touting “Instant and careful ambulance service,” using what they described as “America’s Finest Ambulance.”
Early on, it was clear that Service, Selling and Progressiveness were part of the Bernstein mantra. As is often in family partnerships. Jake and Mose parted ways at some point in the late 1930s with Mose assuming ownership of the funeral home and lake taking over the furniture business.
Bernstein Funeral Home is still in business today, although it was sold to a conglomerate years ago. Jake, who clearly had a creative gene, began crafting pieces of fine furniture and quickly became known as one of the foremost experts in the area of Early American antiques and more particularly, ‘Shaker’ style furniture. He ultimately sold the furniture store in 1945 to Sterchis, a large chain at the time. From there he opened, “In the Ruff Antique Shop” and is lovingly remembered and by long-time local Athens residents as being closely involved in all things Athens, serving as an Honorary Chairman for St. Mary’s Hospital as well as a trustee for the Athens Country Club.
Next up, Jimmy Bernstein (Jason’s Father)
Although a bit of a free spirit early in life, had a burning desire to make his mark in the world. A promising acting career was unfortunately cut short in the 1960s as Jimmy needed to come back home to care for his ailing father.
After a short stint as a cattle farmer, a career in real estate formed the beginnings of a legacy. He began with local hero and longtime Athenian Zippy Morocco, where he cut his teeth and learned the business of real estate. Later he joined forces with Pete Dickens of Pete Dickens Realty, where he gained the experience and confidence to open his own business. Delta Realty was established in 1977 and, for a quarter of a century, was known as one of the top property management firms in Athens. During this time, Delta Realty managed over 1000 units from a Gaines School location on the East side. Additionally, Jimmy repurposed an old run-down hotel development on Milledge Avenue that became known as FairFax Hall, then developed a new complex named Raintree Apartments. This period welcomed the current generation of Bernstein real estate ventures which started to come into focus in 1992.
With many years of sales training and business ownership in the rearview mirror, Jason Bernstein applied the experience gained under his father’s tutelage at Delta Realty and realized a talent for sales. His desire for independence and love for real estate motivated Jason to seek a position with Remax Real estate where he spent the next 21 years becoming one of Athens’ top agents. With change in the air, 2017 also brought love and Jason’s beautiful wife, Lisa. She had been with an agency in Boulder CO, garnering over 25 years experience as a high producing Realtor. Together they joined forces and opened their own firm – Bernstein & Co Realty, where they spent the next four years building their dream team.
Which brings us to today…
The Fourth generation of Bernsteins serving the local Athens area has officially begun by relocating to the very same office where the real estate story began with Delta Realty. The team at 995 Gaines School Road in Athens East side will provide more than a strong desire for the same high level of service, integrity and hard work exhibited by past generations. “Our goal is to provide an extraordinary experience that focus’ on the client’s needs, with the highest level of service and the knowledge that your family’s largest asset is in the hands of caring folks that you can count on to help bring about the best possible outcome,” Lisa explains.
As the Bernstein Brothers used to say back in the early 1900s, “Absolute satisfaction guaranteed, the customer to be the judge.” This motto still rings true today.
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