Lifelong love of coins
Not everyone finds his life’s calling at 9 years old.
But that’s when Jerry Petros found his true passion for coin collecting. In the decades hence, he has forged a highly successful career as the founding owner of Alliance Coins & Jewelry at 1194 W State Street.
“I’ve had it in my blood forever,” he said.
Petros even can recall the moment when the spark was lit.
One Friday night back in 1963, the family went out for fish at “Pinky’s” in Hanoverton when Petros’ father gave him the change after paying for dinner.
“I remember there was a 1963 penny, bright and shiny, that had the letter ‘D’ on it, for Denver Mint,” he said. “My father explained it to me.”
The wall of the store bears his first collection: A framed set of pennies he purchased in Malvern.
“I paid $6 dollars. They’re worth $3 today,” he said, laughing. “I learned everything by making mistakes.”
A former ceramics engineer who also worked in the aerospace industry, Petros opened his first coin shop in the late 1980s in Louisville.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Petros earned certifications from the state of Ohio, the Professional Coin Grading Service (PCGS), the Numismatic Guaranty Corporation (NGC) and the American Numismatic Association Certification Service (ANACS).
He also is a member of the Alliance and Canton Regional chambers of commerce, the Industry Council for Tangible Assets and North American Collectibles Association.
He later moved the shop to Minerva and finally to the present site in Alliance in 2013.
“We just kept plugging along,” he said. “Business is growing.”
The hardest part of the business, Petros said, is spotting fakes.
“It’s even tougher today,” he remarked. “There’s so much counterfeit stuff coming out of China.”
He recalled one customer who brought in a gold coin that had all the right information, down to the serial number.
The customer invested nearly $1,200 in the coin, but it was phony.
“It was worth about 50 cents,” Petros said. “You have to be on your toes.”
He refuses to pass on such items to customers.
“Just be fair. Just be honest,” he said, saying that in addition to doing business, he also endeavors to educate customers on what they’re buying and selling.
Petros said many of the items the store receives come from customers who have inherited them, noting that he recently bought, then sold a quarter minted in 1796.
In addition to coins and bills, Petros buys, sells and repairs jewelry, vintage pocket watches and a limited number of antiques, including documents signed by Presidents Franklin Pierce and William McKinley, some Civil War-era swords and a collection of bullet fragments recovered from a farm in Gettysburg.
“You never know what’s going to walk through the door,” he said.
The store’s centerpiece is a sparkling chandelier, brought in pieces, in “a box of junk,” Petros said.
He liked it so much, he had it restored and rewired. It hangs in front of an 1882 mantle piece recovered from a home in Massillon and a surprisingly comfortable Victorian-style sofa from the 1890s.
The store also carries what Petros calls “blanket bills;” including discontinued currency that bears McKinley’s image.
There also are coins available for engraving for special occasions. The shop also carries the latest offering from the U.S. Mint.
Though there’s always a demand for jewelry, Petros said he worries a little that the number of coin collectors is dwindling.
“Younger people aren’t collecting coins as much,” he sad.
Still, business is doing well. Petros attributes some of that to his reputation for honesty.
“You buy it for what it’s worth, and you sell it for what it’s worth,” he said.
Store hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays, and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. For more information, call 330-823-2646 or visit alliancecoinsandjewelry.com.