At 76, Best Buy Associate Loves Spinning Stories and Delighting Customers

He’s repaired copy machines, installed sound systems in movie theaters and even cooked in the U.S. Air Force. But Donald Grabski’s current job is one of his all-time favorites.

At age 76, Don is a top salesman in the home theater department of the Best Buy store in north Sacramento. A lifelong fan of audio, he spends his days chatting with customers about cool sound systems while passing along experiences from a life that began nine days after Pearl Harbor was attacked.

“I’ve developed a bit of a following and many friends among customers,” he says. “A lot of people come in and if I’m not here, they say they’ll be back tomorrow. I think it’s because I’m easy to talk to and can talk about almost any subject.”

Those subjects can range from his days in the Air Force to his years installing movie theater sound systems for Paramount Pictures.

“In 1977, I installed the first multichannel CP 200 Dolby system in Long Island, New York, for the first Stars Wars movie,” he says.

Long Island was Don’s home until he joined the Air Force at age 17. He grew up listening to rock and roll (“When I’d play the music, it would drive my mother crazy.”), and building “more amplifiers than I can remember.”

He spun records as a DJ on an Air Force base in Maine, where he was known as “Don the Redhead,” before spending the bulk of his career working for Paramount and Kodak. Along the way, he’d not only put together his own audio systems, he’d take care of the video, too.

“You could buy a kit that had everything you needed to build a color TV,” he says. “My friends and neighbors would buy it and then pay me $100 for the labor to put it together. Took me about a week for each one.”

Dedicated to Best Buy

About four years ago, Don left semi-retirement to work at Best Buy, where he averages roughly 4 miles a day walking around the store. It’s a job he loves and plans to do until he’s 80.

“He’s a diehard Best Buy associate. One of the hardest working guys in my store,” says Ashish Patel, the store’s general manager. “I hold him up as an example. He loves this company, and it shows.”

Don demonstrates his devotion to the company with a vanity license plate (“BB AUDIO”), and holder, that proclaim his affection.

“I’ve been accused of having Best Buy blue blood,” he says. “Then again, when I was with Kodak, it was yellow blood.”

When he’s done with work each day, Don goes home and listens to music with his wife in their outdoor garden area.

Not surprisingly, he has a pretty good setup.

“I have a sound system at home that would knock your socks off,” he says. “Literally.”

 

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