MBA Recognizes Moorestown Hardware: A Business That Makes Community a Priority

Longtime Moorestown residents remember when the building currently occupied by AR Workshop (and also Starbucks) was Wright’s Hardware Store, a haven for do-it-yourself types.  The site’s newest inhabitant is reviving the DIY tradition with a modern, and much more fun, approach. AR Workshop owners Heather Iannelli and Vida Friel have developed an inviting and relaxed environment packed with craft projects and all the materials needed to make creative ideas become a reality. The new business is an ideal addition to Main Street, drawing groups of friends and families who come in to have some fun and go home with their own personal masterpieces.

Launched by two designers in North Carolina in 2016, AR Workshop is a rapidly growing franchise business with outlets in over 120 locations throughout the country. The successful concept caught Heather Iannelli’s eye when she was looking to start her own business that same year. She recognized the potential of the brand and decided to take the plunge, opening a location in Turnersville in early 2017. Her sister-in-law Vida Friel, a fan of hand-crafting projects, was interested in learning more about the business and decided to do the franchise training with Iannelli. After the initial success of the Turnersville location, they began to look together for the best place to open a second site—this time as co-owners.

Iannelli and Friel were drawn to Moorestown because of the old-fashioned charm of its Main Street that attracts people to stroll the corridor, shop and dine. They researched the town and were impressed with the close-knit community where residents support a variety of activities and rally behind innovative and appealing developments in town. Encouraged by what they saw, the two entrepreneurs jumped at the chance to sign a lease when the Main Street space became available in January, 2018. They opened their door and welcomed the public with a grand opening in September, and business has been booming ever since. It even caught the eye of the producers of Fox 29’s Good Day Philadelphia, who featured the Moorestown business in a recent segment.

“The concept is based on personalized home décor items that people come in and stencil with custom designs and lettering,” explains Iannelli. “The primary medium is wood, which is used for all kinds of projects including signs, chalkboards, clocks, picture frames, centerpiece boxes and trays.” Other popular offerings are canvas pillows and wall hangings, and more recently chunky blankets and blanket ladders are big draws.

Items are selected online before participants arrive. “We take the information entered by participants and have customized stencils and all materials ready to go when people get here,” notes Friel.  Projects, which usually take about three hours from start to finish, are set up and completed on roomy tables and participants are guided step-by-step by a team of instructors.

AR Workshop is available for social groups, families, and individuals seeking a creative way to have fun. The space is a popular spot for bridal showers, birthday parties, fund raisers and date nights, and this summer the owners plan to roll out a day-camp for kids 8-14 years old. To book a workshop, or to get more information, visit or call 856-437-3220.

New and innovative business models such as AR Workshop are key to promoting a municipality’s economic growth and the quality of life for its residents. With AR Workshop’s successful re-envisioning of the old hardware store space, they add a fresh presence to the heart of town while continuing the tradition of providing a hands-on gathering place. The MBA Board welcomes AR Workshop as a vital new addition to Moorestown’s Main Street business district, and is delighted to present owners Heather Iannelli and Vida Friel with a Spotlight certificate of appreciation.

Photo: MBA Vice President Craig Dennin, Heather Iannelli, Vida Friel, MBA Membership Chair Diane Felcyn. Photo credit: Tom Sheckels