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Red Barn Feed Keeps a Lid on Pet Food Prices : The store cuts the cost of supermarket brands and 'premium' foods. Specials offer even more savings.


The joy that I get from my dog Sadie, a golden lab mix, and her constant companion, a color-coordinated marmalade kitten, is unlimited. It more than makes up for the cost of maintaining them. But still there are ways that costs can be lowered.

The Red Barn Feed & Saddlery is consistently less expensive than any pet store I have ever visited. And if you follow the specials, there are even better savings to be realized.

As an example, last week they offered two 25-pound boxes of Science Diet Maintenance for dogs for $23.50, which comes to 47 cents per pound. Most of the chains get $26.99 for a 40-pound bag, which turns out to be 67 cents per pound. The same special last week offered $5 off for any expenditure over $30. There's usually a two-week life on these specials.

One of the Red Barn's policies stands out from the other pet stores: They carry both the regular pet foods available at the supermarkets and the "premium" foods that only pet stores sell.

Owner Phil Carter explains the basic difference: "Premium has a few more nutrients and a little less filler so that the animal needs less and needs to eliminate less. Premium is a little easier on the animal."

My Sadie does best on the Science Diet kibble, but she loves Pedigree for canned food. The 22-ounce can runs 85 cents at Red Barn and 99 cents at most supermarkets. By the case it gets better by three or four cents.

My cats have always loved Fanci Feast (and I love it because it comes in small cans, just the right size for one meal). At Ralph's a can usually sells for 49 cents; at Red Barn the price is 37 cents.

It doesn't sound like a big savings until you look at the long haul. The average cat will eat three cans a day, which comes to 1,095 cans each year. So that 12 cents means a savings of $131.40 per year.

Each Saturday from 3:30 to 5 p.m., two vets from Encino Veterinary Clinic visit the Red Barn to give low-cost shots. For instance, the rabies shot that usually runs $30 to $40 at a vet's office is only $4 on Saturday at the Red Barn. A word of warning, however: This place is a zoo on Saturdays, so if you can, plan to visit some other day.

As always, when pet lovers get together, there is a camaraderie among the knowledgeable personnel and the customers at this store. You get the distinct feeling that the folks here really know and care about your pets. But it's not just cats and dogs at Red Barn. Include horses, bunnies, parakeets and chicks among the customers.

They even sell eggs here at $1 a dozen, and if you buy more than $30 worth of stuff, you get a carton free.

Red Barn Feed & Saddlery, 18601 Oxnard St., Tarzana. (818) 345-2510. 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.


Weekend Super Sale: It's the last few days of the warehouse sale of Barney's New York merchandise. Very pricey apparel for men and women is reduced by 50% to 70% through Sunday. These last hours of the sale should produce some excellent deals. There's no try-on facilities so wear a leotard, ladies. Hours: 8 a.m.-7 p.m. weekdays; 10 a.m.-7 p.m. weekends. Santa Monica Air Center, Barker Hangar, 3021 Airport Ave., Santa Monica. (310) 777-5798.

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