Photo appears courtesy of Lyn Lomasi. Ever wonder how all those school supplies make it into the extremely crowded "back to school" area of Walmart? The process involves a tightly connected network of buyers, suppliers, EDI providers, teachers and 29 million households. The "back to school" supply chain probably starts sometime in the spring, when buyers all over the US predict what will be most in demand for the coming school year. Will the pre-sharpened Ticonderoga pencils be available or not? Will pencil top erasers be on the supply lists? And will there be enough glue sticks for the two dozen each parent will be required to buy? As I walked around Walmart this year, frantically looking for everything on my twins' supply lists, it occurred to me none of these people have any idea what led up to this chaos.