Phillip Carter owned Red Barn Feed and Pet, and supported animal welfare

Longtime owner of Red Barn Feed and Pet and beloved San Fernando Valley businessman Phillip Carter has died at 90. He leaves behind a legacy of love for animals, volunteerism and four decades of passionate leadership at the flourishing animal supply store in Tarzana.

He and his wife Patricia purchased Red Barn in 1984 as a project to embrace during their first few years of retirement.

“It was just a fluke that they bought Red Barn,” said Carter’s daughter Cassie on Thursday, May 18. “They saw it was for sale and did this really impulsive thing of buying it. It wasn’t something they really deliberated on, but then he spent 40 years turning it into a place that reflected his values and excitement.”

What began as a short-term way to keep busy became Carter’s calling. With his family and black cat Salem by his side, Carter proudly led Red Barn to prosperity—employing more than 200 people, helping countless community members, and hatching hundreds of chickens during his nearly 40 years at the helm.

Phillip Carter, Red Barn Feed & Pet owner for 40 years. (Photo courtesy Red Barn Feed and Pet)

“Through Red Barn, he was an active supporter of animal welfare organizations,” Cassie Carter said. “He would give donations or really good prices to lots of local animal rescue groups. That’s just what he did. He was amazing.”

Running Red Barn was supposed to be a retirement activity after decades of experience as a social worker. But Carter didn’t see that as a reason to rest. Each day—seven days a week—he opened the store, raised the flag atop its pole, spoke to and laughed with customers, stocked shelves, bonded with employees and closed down in the evening.

“He was a classic workaholic,” Cassie said.

In his earlier career, Carter contributed to his community as the first director of the Venice Service Center, where he led efforts to increase workforce equity and opportunity.

He was a professor of social work at California State University, Los Angeles, sharing his knowledge and sense of humor with his students for more than 20 years.

Phillip Carter, Red Barn Feed & Pet owner for 40 years. (Photo courtesy Red Barn Feed and Pet)

And after he ended his social work career, Carter used his experience to volunteer as a Court Appointed Special Advocate, supporting children in the legal system. His passion for volunteering also led him to become a crisis response worker, helping young people in times of tragedy.

“He was dedicated to helping children, youth and young adults find pathways forward,” the Carter family said in a statement.

Cassie said one of her standout memories was his response to the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Red Barn was covered in rubble and several of its ceilings had caved in.

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While working to repair that damage, he handed out free animal feed to nearby San Fernando Valley pet owners. With most stores closed and the community reeling from the quake’s destruction, Red Barn provided a sense of community and a necessary resource for dogs, cats, birds—and people.

The store has become a community staple, and Carter was key to it all. A celebration of his life will be held at Red Barn at 18601 W. Oxnard Street, Tarzana, on June 11, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Carter will be remembered by his family, customers, employees, former students and Valley neighbors as a kind, optimistic, hardworking fixture of the community.

“He always wanted to help,” Cassie said. “He knew everyone’s name and story. And he built community wherever he went.”

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