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A giant statue of Marcus from the tabletop game Warhammer 40K stands poised for action at the portal to Ellicott City’s new social hobby gaming store. Gamer-Corps owner Tim McManus says when he purchased “the Inquisitor” statue from a supplier in Germany, he was told there are only four in the U.S.

McManus — an active-duty Marine — spent eight years growing his vision of a community hub for gamers. He designed the shop’s logo, conceived a business plan and dreamt of handcrafting the store’s wooden game tables while fighting in Afghanistan. The vision kept him grounded, he says: “I wanted to create a job I would love when I came home.”

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GamerGeoffrey Ede, right, who is traveling from Amsterdam, Netherlands, for work in Maryland, plays Magic the Gathering with Josh Chernikoff, from left, and Jamie Reed, at Gamers-Corps the new social tabletop gaming store in Ellicott City.
GamerGeoffrey Ede, right, who is traveling from Amsterdam, Netherlands, for work in Maryland, plays Magic the Gathering with Josh Chernikoff, from left, and Jamie Reed, at Gamers-Corps the new social tabletop gaming store in Ellicott City. (Kenneth K. Lam)

McManus still has two years to serve before he retires from the Marines. But when he and his wife, Ashley, fell in love with old Ellicott City during a family trip to the B&O Railroad Museum last spring, they decided “it was time” to open the store together on Main Street.

Leo Julio, a reservist who served in Afghanistan with McManus, is the store’s third partner.

After a soft opening last April, May 4 — celebrated worldwide as Star Wars Day — marked the store’s grand opening.

And Ashley helped other small business owners organize the overwhelmingly successful Wizarding Weekend on Magical Main for Harry Potter fans last October. At the end of that exciting weekend, McManus says other shopkeepers told him they’d seen record sales in 30 years.

“Ellicott City has not been washed away [by 2018’s flooding] — its character, perseverance and overall kindness and positivity are very much alive,” he says.

Gamer Peter Loats, of Columbia, measures one of his moves while playing the role-playing game WarCry at Gamers-Corps, the new social tabletop gaming store in Ellicott City.
Gamer Peter Loats, of Columbia, measures one of his moves while playing the role-playing game WarCry at Gamers-Corps, the new social tabletop gaming store in Ellicott City. (Kenneth K. Lam)

The storefront beckons foot traffic into a warm retail space that leads to two interior game rooms serving as a gathering place for players of all ages. The McManuses’ own children — Max, 4, and Savannah, 6 — are at home pulling out Melissa & Doug-brand table games.

Visitors are welcome to try out games at no cost. Organized events are posted on the store’s website, and e-sports will be coming soon.

A Young Adventurers Dungeon and Dragons campaign serves gamers ages 8-18.

The parents of Howard High student Alix Zahn, 14, steered the high elf fighter and her brother, Anton, 12, to the campaign.

“We’re currently playing Dragonlance, based off the books based off Dungeons and Dragons; it’s pretty fun,” she says.

McManus says he finds it humbling to see parents discover their children’s budding leadership and social skills, especially those whose kids tend to be shy or anxious.

No bullying nor toxic behavior is tolerated at Gamers-Corps, where community building, healthy competition, positivity and respect are core values.

If you go

Gamers-Corps

8167 Main St., Ellicott City

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443-325-5983

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