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In the age of digital innovation, reading books straight from your devices sounds very convenient. Yet, paper books and the independent bookstores that sell them have been making a comeback over the last several years. Old or new, bookstores welcome guests with the excitement of discovering classic and current titles alike. It seems that the death of the book predicted at the beginning of this century was greatly exaggerated: bookstores are here to stay and continue to grow despite the presence of their online competitors.
If you’re planning to build an independent bookstore—or perhaps restore an older one—we’ve curated a list of the best builders in the US. We looked at the accreditations, certifications, professional affiliations, as well as the recognition each firm has received in the form of industry awards and press. We also took into account how much experience these firms offered, client reviews, and the range of services offered. For a bookstore that is built with the utmost care for client visions and impeccable industry standards, get in touch with the best bookshop contractors in the US.
Baldwin & Shell Construction Company
1000 W Capitol, Little Rock, AR 72201
Baldwin & Shell Construction Company has come a long way since its debut in 1946. Since those post-war years, the firm has accumulated an immense proficiency in construction that remains as a company standard. Baldwin & Shell continues to live out its mission of providing unparalleled quality service. Under the management of its current leaders, the firm has completed several projects in Arkansas.
The firm has received many awards for a variety of its projects. Among its notable recognitions is the American Institute of Architect’s Merit Award for the Garland Center.
The firm took part in the newly constructed Garland Bookstore at the University of Arkansas campus. The 50,000-square-foot facility provided the campus with a bookstore, shopping, parking, and dining space. Baldwin & Shell built the complex to meet LEED Silver standards. The Garland provides a beautiful space where students enjoy buying books and university merchandise.
1000 N West St. Suite #850, Wilmington, DE 19801
BPGS Construction is a Mid-Atlantic region-based company with a record of providing award-winning services. The firm specializes in new construction as well as renovation projects. Its communicative, efficient approach to clients and projects has resulted in numerous successful projects in the retail, mixed-use, residential, and entertainment sectors. Two innovative decades of design and construction are reflected in the firm’s portfolio; it’s a culmination of the variety of work the firm has been able to provide and take part in.
BPGS Construction displayed its expertise in design/build delivery in the University of Delaware campus bookstore construction. The firm incorporated the new building with an existing 100-year-old schoolhouse. A total of 62,300 square feet of space was added and completed in 2011. This complex houses the University of Delaware Barnes & Noble bookstore on the first two floors and the University’s development office on the third floor.
Calhoun Construction Services
3307 Gilmore Industrial Blvd., Louisville, KY 40213
Calhoun Construction Services is a Kentucky-based company offering a range of services. In addition to construction management, the company extends its expertise to facility maintenance, trade contracting, and pre-construction processes. Under the exceptional leadership of John Hinshaw, Calhoun has developed a work ethic based on integrity, quality, and passion. Hinshaw’s two decades of industry involvement helped him cultivate a team of professionals to take on challenging projects.
For more than eight years Calhoun Construction Services has shared its competence in construction while working with acclaimed clients. Because of its efficient work and method delivery, the firm has been named among Louisville’s Fast 50 list of fastest-growing companies.
120 Oneta St., Athens, GA 30605
In 2016, Andrew Malec and Zack Brendel co-founded an Athens-based boutique construction company called Character Built. Much like its name, Character Built displays a range of aesthetic and uniquely built projects in Athens. Through comprehensive collaboration with clients and a well-equipped team, the firm delivers distinctive projects. Its work has been featured in online publications like the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Red & Black, and Flagpole Athens.
Character Built had the opportunity to build the Five Point expansion of Avid Bookshop. The bookshop was built to accommodate events and an impressive range of books and genres. The company gave the bookshop the same character its Prince Avenues location already has a reputation for: an inviting place for the community to gather. The online magazine MentalFloss.com named Avid Bookshop among the best.
2310 Washington St., Newton Lower Falls, MA 02462
Since it opened its doors in 1983, Cranshaw Construction has completed over 35 million square feet of space in downtown Boston. This exceptional skill in construction has brought the team tremendous success in the industry. Its expertise varies from multi-family residential homes to retail development and construction. Jack O’Neil serves as the current president of Cranshaw. He leads a team of goal-driven professionals who specialize in commercial construction.
Cranshaw Construction partnered with Peter Rose + Partners in the design and construction of the Boston-based bookshop, More Than Words. The bookstore is a nonprofit social enterprise that helps empower youth by taking charge of a books-selling business both online and in-store. Cranshaw made the expansion of MTW a success. A series of retrofits and new construction created a flexible space for book retailing and youth development events. Approximately 10,000 square feet of space was filled with 10’ custom millwork bookcases, an elevator, and a new loading dock.
2344 Spruce St. Suite B, Boulder, CO 80302
Deneuve is a Boulder-based construction company founded by Phil Shull in 1971. Since its inception, it has built a reputation for delivering projects with the highest quality and workmanship. The firm specializes in pre-construction, design/build, and development management services.
One of the firm’s distinguishing aspects is its ability to practice construction in multiple states. Deneuve’s construction-savvy team continues to excel under the leadership of company president David Garabed. As the president, Garabed ensures company delivery and performance from its team. His diverse experience in construction projects has built his valuable work history. He applies the knowledge from his previous work with historic renovation into the firm’s projects.
The Boulder Bookstore is a historical retail building in downtown Boulder, Colorado. Deneuve restored the shop’s storefront and structural reinforcements. The team seamlessly performed these changes into the existing structure of the bookstore. The established bookstore is among many of Colorado’s loved bookstores.
80 Main St., Lemont, IL 60439
2001 marked the beginning of Englewood Construction located in Lemont, Illinois. The commercial construction company has since emerged as one of Illinois’s leading contractors. Through its skilled team of project managers and administrative staff, the firm is able to ensure the complete realization of any project. The firm’s collective work ethic is deeply rooted in integrity, honesty, and accountability. Clients know that this is a trustworthy company that will deliver.
Englewood Contractors has worked on both local and national commercial projects in the restaurant, retail, hospitality, and education sectors. The company is budget-conscious and provides fast, efficient project delivery: it’s no surprise it has a great reputation among clients.
Englewood Construction’s capability in building retail stores range from big-box retailers to specialty stores like Barnes & Noble. The firm performed construction management and pre-construction services for this particular project.
F&W Construction Company, Inc.
3821 Dee Circle, Anchorage, AK 99516
F&W Construction Company is an Anchorage-based company specializing in a number of services including tenant improvements, vertical construction, and design-build. F&W Construction Company is a third-generation business established by Al Wiederholt in 1958.
Tenant improvement services pose a challenge of working within occupied spaces: these projects demand a meticulous approach. F&W Construction Company’s crew are well-versed in when it comes to these particular challenges. One of F&W Construction’s tenant improvement projects included the University of Alaska, Anchorage bookstore. The bookstore is a one-stop-shop for university students looking for textbooks, art materials, and apparel.
1536 New Britain Ave., Farmington, CT 06032
Since FIP Construction’s establishment in 1963, the firm has built a strong connection with its clients and industry partners. It has a strong presence in a number of markets, including healthcare, assisted living, commercial, retail, and specialty retail. FIP Construction’s works can be seen in states including Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.
One of its projects at Wesleyan University is the R.J. Julia Bookstore. This lovely space features a two-story bookstore and includes a dining area. FIP Construction, in collaboration with Northeast Collaborative Architects, completed the 14,000 square feet bookstore in Middletown. The firm’s green building efforts have earned it recognition from the US Green Building Council and LEED-Certified staff and projects.
4550 Forbes Blvd. Suite #200, Lanham, MD 20706
Herman/Stewart Construction is a Maryland-based company specializing in commercial projects such as retail, restaurant, specialty, and hotel. Under the leadership of Terry Varner, Herman/Stewart Construction was able to become a large-scale general contractor serving Maryland and 47 other states. Varner initiates a hands-on approach to managing the team to establish good communication.
The firm’s portfolio is a compilation of the diverse projects it has completed over three decades. Aside from malls and big-box retail projects, the firm has built a few bookstores. Herman/Stewart Construction built ten Barnes & Noble stores throughout Maryland, Virginia, Washington DC, and Minnesota. Testimonials from its previous retail clients attest to the firm’s capabilities in building complex spaces. The majority of these testimonials praise the firm’s precise attention to detail.
ICS Builders, Inc.
14th Flr., 108 West 39th St., New York, NY 10018
ICS Builders, Inc. is a commercial construction and real estate company based in New York. ICS Builders’ president, John O’Rourke, joined the company in 1990 and he led the firm to develop a style of dynamic company management.
In its four decades in the industry, ICS Builders was able to build over seven million square feet of space in different markets. The firm’s use of state-of-the-art software in planning and building allows it to create a precise, efficient project. In addition to its list of comprehensive services, ICS Builders are USGBC accredited professionals who have been awarded LEED certifications for sustainability projects.
The firm has been featured in publications like Building Design & Construction, New York Real Estate Journal, Contract Magazine, and Constructioneer Magazine. Among its projects is the construction of the Barnes & Noble flagship store in Manhattan. ICS Builders provided interior fit-outs, expansions, and renovations for three of its retail bookstores in Manhattan.
2020 McCullough Blvd., Tupelo, MS 38801
Since 1941, JESCO has been designing and constructing large commercial projects like Barnes and Noble and Saks Fifth Avenues. JESCO’s greatest asset is the client-oriented, teamwork driven spirit of our people. Throughout each project, JESCO works closely with your people to construct the facility, but we also strive to build a lasting relationship with you, the Owner. JESCO’s work is not complete until we are rewarded with your next project. JESCO brings to its clients over $1 billion worth of completed construction experience over the last five years. This experience guarantees your team is successful. That’s why 74% of our business is from repeat clients. For more information on JESCO Construction, you can visit their website here.
JESCO teamed up with The Mall at Barnes Crossing for the addition and construction of new mall attractions, one of them being the new Barnes & Noble bookstore. In addition to the new bookstore, the construction covered various store revamps and electrical upgrades to the mall’s common areas.
2351 Scott Blvd., Iowa City, IA 52240
Knutson Construction is a full-service general contractor based in Iowa City. Founder Thor Knutson started the company with the goal of leading the industry by creating a team grounded in an intense work ethic, a strong sense of business integrity, and a profound commitment to collaboration.
Having been in the business since 1911, Knutson Construction has gained a valuable amount of construction experience and knowledge. Its portfolio reflects this design/build prowess. The company has a lot to offer its clients when it comes to project diversity. From arts & culture to retail and even wastewater treatment, Knutson delivers.
The University of Iowa sought the expertise of Knutson Construction in the renovation of the Iowa Memorial Union. This building makes the first impression on visiting students. Keeping its foundation-safety updated and interiors modernized is paramount. A total of 43,062 square feet of space included the addition of bookstore space, the restoration of a historical lounge, and strengthening of foundation and footings which support the building. The building remained operational during construction to accommodate over 10,000 staff.
407 N Washington St., Falls Church, VA 22046
L.F. Jennings is an award-winning construction company founded by Lawrence Floyd Jennings. Its professionalism and grit have given the company a great reputation. Today, the firm is under the leadership of third-generation builder, Jon Jennings. Starting as a small masonry company, it thrived and eventually began to provide service for large-scale projects. Today, the company has built a variety of projects in the Mid-Atlantic region over the past 68 years.
L.F. Jennings is responsible for the Barnes & Noble Kitchen at One Loudoun located in Ashburn, VA a book and wine enthusiast’s haven. The firm worked with Howell Belanger Castelli Architects on the 17,717-square-foot project. The interior fit-out features a bookstore section, a wine bar, and a restaurant. It acts as a one-stop-shop for food, leisure, and culture.
Langlas & Associates
2270 Grant Rd., Billings, MT 59102
Langlas & Associates is a homegrown Montana company established in 1973. It is led by a second-generation of management, providing Montana and five other states with top-of-the-line construction services. Steve R. Langlas, Steve T. Langlas, Bill Langlas, and Catherine Bergman are the firm’s four pillars. Under their leadership, the firm has steadily grown its team exponentially as well as its service reach.
As a member of the USGBC, its team of LEED-Accredited Professionals practices green sustainable building. Because of Langlas & Associates’ green building efforts, the firm was awarded the 2018 Excellence in Environmental Achievements. This expansive Barnes & Noble store can be found in one of the firm’s commercial and retail projects in the Gallatin Valley Mall.
7806 NC Hwy. 751, Suite #100, Durham, NC 27713
Montgomery is a general contractor and real estate developer established by Christine Edwards and John Fugo in 1986. It was built with the goal of becoming a leading national retail and restaurant contractor in North Carolina. Edwards and Fugo’s equally rich construction background allows them to effectively communicate Montgomery’s vision to their team of industry professionals. The firm has completed a significant number of commercial and urban development projects for dozens of local and national clients which include retailers and medical institution owners across 43 states. Montgomery now stands as one of the most prolific builders located in the state.
Mongomery constructed a Barnes & Noble bookstore branch located at the Mayfaire Town Center in Wilmington. In addition, the firm has done projects for Google, Champs Sports, BJ’s Wholesale Club, Walgreens, and the Disney Store. TO accommodate the growing industry trend in the state, the company expanded to include real estate and property management services.
1978 S West Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84115
Okland Construction is founded on the principles of innovation, character, and integrity. Translating these principles into work is a challenge its team encounters at the beginning of every project. A century of construction practice allowed Okland to build spaces that shape the economy of Utah, Arizona, and Idaho. It has also created a great list of clientele including eBay, Adobe, Barnes & Noble, Arizona State University, and more.
Building retail projects is one of Okland’s areas of expertise. The Deseret Book flagship store at the City Creek Center is a great example of the firm’s work. The new flagship store is located only a few feet away from the very first Deseret Bookstore which opened 144 years ago. Okland teamed up with Zions Securities Corporation to create a space big enough to fit a bookstore, art gallery, a pantry, artifact displays, and more that cannot be found in other Deseret locations.
Press publications like Utah Construction and Design Magazine, Structure Magazine, Dezeen Magazine, and North American Builders Magazine have featured Okland’s leading construction services and products.
77 Westport Plz. Suite #250, St. Louis, MO 63146
PARIC is a Missouri-based general contractor established by Paul Mckee Jr. and Richard Jordan. PARIC, which is a combination of Paul and Richard’s name, represents its company and its well-versed team of professionals. Joseph McKee, III stands as PARIC’s chief executive officer who is responsible for the company’s development.
The firm is often listed among the country’s top Design-Build and Construction companies. Midwest Real Estate News, Building Design + Construction, and Travel Magazine and Guide have praised the firm and its works through feature articles and annual top contractors lists. Throughout the years, the firm was able to broaden its work from commercial construction to academic market segments and retail.
PARIC provided interior and exterior renovation for the Washington University’s Mallinckrodt Center. The project comprised a total of 50,000 square feet of space allotted for new classrooms, multi-purpose space, dance studio, and overhaul of a two-story bookstore.
P.O. Box 1311, Point Clear, AL 36564
Commitment to high-caliber work and great customer relations has paved the way for SCC Group’s industry progress. Working as a senior manager in his previous work built David Martin’s portfolio and background in construction. He established SCC Group with the goal of becoming the contractor of choice for all types of work. SCC Group employs an honest and committed approach to every project it handles. This is something the firm has mastered within its decade of service throughout the Gulf Coast.
SCC Group’s portfolio displays its versatility with commercial, marine, residential, and industrial projects. Its commercial projects are made up of new construction and renovation projects for a diverse clientele. Books and food unite at the Page & Palette bookstore in Fairhope, AL. The bookstore features a book cellar where readers can check out a range of titles, an events space, and a cafe corner. MentalFloss gave Page & Palette a special mention in an online article on the best bookstores.
111 E. Washington Ave., Bethlehem, PA 18018
Shafer Construction is one of Bethlehem’s pioneer remodelers and builders. Growing up to a family of builders, Bill Shafer’s interest in construction started at a young age. He was exposed to the business early where he honed his skills in construction. He watched episodes of This Old House as a young boy which inspired him to start a residential and commercial remodeling firm.
The firm values quality above all else. By working on one project at a time, Shafer’s team is able to produce high-quality projects that meet the client’s vision and standards. Shafer has done numerous projects from repeat clients as well as received referrals.
Shafer’s specializes in remodeling exteriors and interiors. One of its projects includes the renovation of The Old Library Bookshop in Bethlehem. The firm restored the original facade of the bookstore to bring out a nostalgic vibe. The construction features demolition of a fake stone porch, an addition of a display window and a bright awning.
3 Davol Sq. Suite A275, Providence, RI 02903
When it comes to construction practices, Shawmut is among the leading names in the industry. It has been mentioned and featured in numerous publications including California Homes Magazine, Wall Street Journal, Fortune Magazine, and more. These publications have highlighted the firm’s expertise when it comes to complex and meticulous projects from California to Rhode Island.
The firm specializes in a variety of work including commercial construction management, design-build, and sustainability work. In 2017, the firm was named as one of the Fastest Growing and Innovative Companies by Providence Business News.
Shawmut took part in the renovation of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) bookstore. Ed Wojcik Architect Ltd. provided the design aspect of the 4,000-square-foot retail space. The RISD bookstore features a multitude of items for students looking for books, art supplies, cards, apparel, and more. The firm worked on a tight schedule and finished a 4-week renovation. The collaboration between Shawmut, the architect, and the client made this fast-paced renovation possible and successful.
2300 Clayton Rd. Suite #800, Concord, CA 94520
Swinerton Builders’ 132 years of construction excellence built the majority of landmark projects that people look up to today. A young Alfred Swinerton founded the company in Los Angeles to provide brick masonry work. Working in a progressing city gave Swinerton the opportunity to work with some of the country’s historic structures. Through a series of challenging events in history, Swinerton remained resilient and continued to share its craftsmanship with its community.
Swinerton Builders, along with a number of specialty contractors, renovated The Fullerton Public Library built in the 1970s. The face-lift of the historical building included the addition of community space, a cafe, and a bookstore. The library remained operational throughout construction. Swinerton performed construction work on budget and with minimal disruption and accuracy: impeccable work was the result.
W.G. Clark Construction Co.
1945 Yale Pl., Seattle, WA 98102
W.G. Clark Construction has been in the construction industry for over 100 years. Since its establishment, W.G. Clark has experienced growth from bidding projects to project negotiation. Aside from building stunning structures, the firm contributes to the environment by building sustainable, green buildings that have been awarded Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certifications.
When Elliott Bay Book Company decided to move from its Pioneer Square location into a warehouse, it sought the help of W.G. Clark Construction. The firm provided extensive work for the construction of the bookstore. By constructing a unique wood-frame for the storefront and interior, a homey vintage character was created. Elliott Bay Book Company is one of the largest and most well-loved bookstores in Seattle. Its relocation initially worried many of its loyal clientele, but they all loved the new store built by W.G. Clark.
The Weitz Company
3033 Campus Dr. Suite N150, Minneapolis, MN 55441
The Weitz Company is without a doubt one of the nation’s top commercial builders for retail build-outs. Industry associations like the Associated Builder & Contractor (ABC), the Arizona Department of Real Estate (AZRE), the Master Builders of Iowa, and Building Design + Construction have praised the firm with awards and press features.
Since 1855 The Weitz Company has led the innovation and practice of technology in construction. Its projects are not limited to national reach, it has expanded its service internationally with projects in Belgium, Egypt, and Algeria.
One of Weitz’s notable commercial projects is the 24,000-square-foot Sorin Hall Bookstore & Drew Science renovation. Hamline University sought the expertise of BWBR and Weitz in the project. Weitz transformed the old dining center into a bookstore, a chapel, and some additional office space.