This is simply amazing. Here these stores have a computer inventory system that allows them to know exactly how many of each item they're selling in every store. My purchases were constant enough to establish a pattern. If they had cared to go to the bother, they could have kept supplying me with the number of cartons I usually buy.
Heck, if they'd only bothered to say to me, "Mr. Card, you're only buying four of these a month, and we can only afford to stock them if we sell eight, because they come eight to the box," I would have bought all eight! (I take my ice cream seriously.)
In other words, with the help of computers, every Harris-Teeter or Fresh Market in the world could be the perfect neighborhood store, always stocking what the customers want to buy, in the quantities they need.
Instead, they make chainwide decisions: "We're only selling fourteen of these a month in Greensboro, so we'll take it out of the stores," instead of noticing that ten of those fourteen are all selling in one store, and allowing the customers who shop there to keep buying it.
When the store loyalty cards came out people freaked over how they could be tracked.
Obviously it is not a big problem because they just don't care.
A store could do some wonderful things with this technology. With a special products section, they could quickly customize their stock for the neighborhood they serve and do great things for profits. There are only two concepts to apply here
The first concept is straightforward enough, stock what people actually buy. You have the records in your database, use them.
The second is bring in related stock that they might buy and see if they do. You could do special endcap promotions or just group things together. Then see what actually happens.