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TOWNSEND — When he was much younger, Stephen Doremus once turned his home dining room into a restaurant. He even served as maître’d, taking down the names of each “guest” as they came in to dine. From a very early age, he dreamed of owning his own real business.

With the opening of Echo Games, just in time for Labor Day weekend, it is no longer a dream but reality — at just 20 years of age. And he couldn’t wait to make it official.

“I started the leg work in June; it’s been a long journey,” he said. “I said, ‘Come hell or high water, I’m opening on Friday (Aug. 29)!'”

The dining room restaurant was just one of many mock businesses Doremus created while growing up in Townsend, where has lived his entire life save for a single year in Leominster. And, like many of those pretend places of business, he intends to be owner, operator and staff, though he hopes to get by with a little help from his friends, including one who is working on his store’s Web page.

“I always wanted business management. I started at (Mt. Wachusett Community College), but drew the conclusion that experience is what matters. Even if it doesn’t work out, I’ll have experience to get into the field.”

Still, he is more than cautiously optimistic that his store will be successful. Echo Games — located at 256 Main Street, below the Townsend Driving School and across from the common — is a place where role-playing gamers (and those with similar passions, such as card games like Magic: The Gathering) can buy the latest products and use them right away in an area set aside for patrons to play in the back of the small store.

“There’s nothing remotely like this in Pepperell, Townsend and Ashby,” he said. “I figure if they’re going to go to Fitchburg or Leominster to find what they want, why spend the gas? Come down the street! Feed that gamer hunger!”

If things are quiet enough, Doremus plans to jump in on a few games with his customers and friends whenever possible, be it a card game or a more “classic” role-playing game like Dungeons & Dragons, also for sale at Echo Games.

He first had the idea for a gaming store a few years ago, when some of his friends opened a computer store in neighboring Lunenburg. However, he did not get the final idea for the shop until fairly recently. His friends and fellow area gamers were excited to hear about the idea and are also anxious to see it open. After all, the nearest such store is in Leominster; Echo Games will offer a much more local alternative.

There are also some comic books available for sale, mostly Japanese manga, as well as a small assortment of replica weapons from anime television series, and, of course, a couple coolers filled with cans of soda, to slake the thirst that accompanies that gamer hunger.

“I know there is a good gamer population,” he said. “The challenge is getting them all together. The store is going to promote interaction with people instead of sitting down by yourself at a computer and ignoring the rest of the world.”

To start, the store will be open from noon to midnight, seven days a week, so even those with normally incompatible daytime schedules can stop by at a convenient time. And while his store’s walls are still fairly empty, with just a few posters in place, he knows his inventory will grow and that empty space will diminish as word spreads.

“I just got my starting stock and will see how everything goes,” he explained, hoping to tailor the store’s stock to fit his customers wants and needs.

“It’s a lot of fun; there are so many great games. You can come in and enjoy the company of other gamers who enjoy the same thing as you. It’s a great environment.”

For more information about Echo Games, contact the store at (978) 597-0500.

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