April 1, 2004 • Volume 12 Number 14

Boston College Bookstore Director Thomas McKenna has a top-shelf view of the renovated store: "It's light and bright and just absolutely great." Along with an additional 750 square feet of retail space, the bookstore features new lighting, carpeting and a reconfigured lay-out. (Photo by Justin Knight)

New-look Bookstore Wows 'Em

After 40 years, McElroy mainstay gets a major face-lift, and more space

By Reid Oslin
Staff Writer
Shoppers visiting the Boston College Bookstore in McElroy Commons these days are experiencing what store manager Thomas McKenna calls the "Oh, wow!" factor.

"That's what most people say when they walk in the front door and see our renovations," said McKenna of the recently completed construction that added some 750 square feet of retail space to the bookstore.

What captures people's attention most of all, he says, is the total facelift the 40-year old facility has undergone: new lighting, paint schemes, carpeting and fixtures, and an updated and improved shopper-friendly layout.

"It's light and bright and just absolutely great," said McKenna, of the new-look bookstore. "It's just nice to be in the store now."

Customers now have more space for browsing, he said, as the former center aisle has been replaced with two wide thoroughfares through the store. "We also have a lot more space for general books and faculty authors' works," McKenna said. "We can now give them a much better presentation."

A new sound system for music and in-store announcements will be installed in coming weeks to complete the renovation, said McKenna, who has worked at the bookstore since 1989 and has been director for the past 13 years.

McKenna said the first step of the bookstore expansion began with the relocation last year of the offices of the Dean for Student Development to the new 21 Campanella Way administration building. The bookstore and Women's Resource Center were assigned former ODSD space on the first floor of McElroy and bookstore management personnel moved into renovated and expanded office spaces across from the main retail outlet.

The bookstore also moved its rapidly-expanding mail order business to the Bookstore Annex area in the Campanella Way building, freeing up an additional 150 square feet of space in the McElroy facility.

Most of the construction work took place from Feb. 26 through March 15, a period that included students' spring vacation and is traditionally one of the quietest times of the year for college bookstore sales, said McKenna.

The University Facilities Management Capital Construction Team's Director of Capital Construction John Romeo, Project Manager Robert Pion and Special Projects Foreman John Page and his staff worked together to complete the renovation task right on schedule, McKenna said. "They did an unbelievable job."

Romeo said, "Without the hard work and coordination from these two individuals, this project could not have happened in this short three-week time frame."

"We were able to make sure that everything was in place and everything was on time," said Pion, who coordinated the work of Page's Special Projects Team and the various project subcontractors. Pion said bookstore employees were particularly helpful in making the job run smoothly in the tight construction time frame. "They were right on top of everything we wanted to do," Pion said. "It was a perfect example of how, when people work well together, good things can happen."

McKenna said that business in the bookstore should start building towards the annual Commencement Week sales peak. "We expect a large group of people who haven't been to the bookstore in a while to be coming in," he said.

"I think we a will get a lot of 'Oh, wows!' when they walk in."

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