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  Goods stacked up to indicate . . . I don’t know what, exactly; there’s probably many studies and lots of literature about how massed goods move the product. Bulk sells.
   
 

There’s a ghost between him and the empty counter.

Dinty Moore! There’s a tale there. Wikipedia says “Dinty Moore Beef Stew” was introduced in 1935, but the rest of the story, in matchbook form, can be seen here.