AR Workshop brings DIY ethic to Port Washington

Luke Torrance
Tara Wilkerson at her AR Workshop in Port Washington, which opens this week. (Photo by Luke Torrance)

Do-it-yourself projects are something Tara Wilkerson has been doing her entire life.

“I grew up in a really old house and I helped my parents remodel. We did a lot of do-it-yourself projects,” she said.

Now Wilkerson will be bringing the lessons she learned growing up to Port Washington when her AR Workshop opens at 273 Main St.

Visitors to the workshop will have the chance to create home furnishings from scratch under Wilkerson’s instruction. Among the possible projects are framed wood signs, lazy susans, canvas pillows and tote bags, among others.

Classes are offered for adults on weeknights, families on weekends, and children over the age of 8 during weekdays in the summer. The space can also host parties and has a license to serve liquor at its bar.

Wilkerson, who grew up near Cincinnati and lives in Manhasset, previously worked for several years as a nurse.

“You do a lot of teaching in nursing,” she said.

With her background with these sort of projects growing up, and her interest spurred by Pinterest, she started teaching classes at another AR Workshop location in New Jersey run by her sister-in-law, Joanna Rapuzzi. Rapuzzi does “behind-the-scenes” work for the Port franchise, Wilkerson said, and is working on opening another location in New Jersey.

“I wanted to get my feet wet working with people,” she said. “Some of the projects are tricky so I wanted experience in helping people with that.”

About a year ago, Wilkerson decided she wanted to open a franchise of her own. When she found a vacant storefront in Baxter Estates along Port’s Main Street, she knew she had found the place.

“I wanted to open a location that was close to my home, and I thought this was the perfect neighborhood,” she said of Port. “With all the families that live around here, it’s a really good community, so that’s why we decided to open here.”

True to her nature, Wilkerson handbuilt the shelving and tables for the location. She also has created dozens of pieces that are available for sale.

The store will have its grand opening on Thursday, hosted by the Port Washington Chamber of Commerce. Regular classes will begin after that event. Wilkerson said she was beyond ready to get started.

“Getting the doors open, it’s been such a long wait,” she said. “Just finally seeing the finished project because it has taken so long to get it looking decent.”

For more information and a classes calendar, visit

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