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In Spain, A Mattress That Lets Your Money Rest Easy

Spaniards wary of trusting their life savings to their country's shaky banking system can now buy a mattress that has an armored safe equipped with a keypad combination lock hidden in one end.

The new product, Caja de ahorros Micolchon — Spanish for "My Mattress Safe" — went on sale three weeks ago, several months after the European Union approved loans of up to $130 billion to bail out troubled Spanish banks.

It's the brainchild of Paco Santos, who was laid off from Spain's biggest mattress manufacturer three years ago and has since started his own company, Descanso Santos Suenos, or DeSS. Reached by telephone at his offices in Salamanca, the 57-year-old salesman assured NPR that My Mattress Safe is no April Fool's Day joke.

"We're completely serious! And we've sold many, many of these mattresses," Santos said, declining to give specific sales figures.

But customers will need some savings up front. My Mattress Safe retails for about $1,120. The company also sells bed frames, conventional mattresses and bed coverings.

"I had a hunch that this new product would sell," Santos said. "You see, we've got big economic problems in Spain, and people have really lost confidence in the banks."

With the help of a son who works in public relations, Santos has launched a website and produced several YouTube videos in Spanish to market his special mattresses.

A two-minute spot shows tumultuous black-and-white scenes of angry street protests, with the words "Crisis — Spanish Banks Collapse" and "The People Can't Sleep Soundly." Then there's the sound of celestial music as the video switches to color and shows a man opening his mattress compartment. He realizes his money is safe, and a tear moves in reverse back into his eye.

In a 59-second video, a smiling Santos looks into the camera and declares that his company wants to "reinvent the traditional method of saving money."

"It turns out our grandparents had the right idea — hiding their money under the mattress!" he told NPR, laughing.

Lauren Frayer reports for NPR from Madrid.

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