A British-American social media tycoon has turned a village’s local shop for local people into Britain’s poshest cornershop – and rammed up the prices to boot.
Michael Birch, who made his billions helping set up several social media sites in the late 1990s and early 200os including Bebo, has been buying up buildings and land in Woolsery in north Devon, where some of his family are from and he visited as a boy.
He and his wife, Xochi, who was also a tech tycoon, have already bought the local pub, fish and chip shop, manor house, several properties as well as 90 acres of farmland.
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They have now transformed the “derelict” local store, which his great-great-granddad built, into a posh shop, with mixed reactions from locals.
While some locals say they "absolutely love" the makeover, others said it would have been "better seeing investment on a local level".
One local said: "Absolutely love our village shop make over. All the buildings were listed and derelict back in 2015 and have been renovated at the cost of millions.
"We've already been lucky enough to have the pub, restaurant, fish & chip shop completely renovated by a millionaire who spent his childhood in the village."
''So lucky to buy in this village without any knowledge of the investment that was being planned."
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But another said: "Beautiful renovations clearly needed In the village but given it was an American tech millionaire owning it all it would have been better seeing investment on a local level and some sort of cooperative that benefited the local families.''
The shop sells bread, milk, tins and biscuits and offers local products including sausage rolls, pasties and artisan spreads and cakes at a steep price
A tin of Heinz soup cost £2 at the new shop – even more expensive than Waitrose which sells it at £1.70 and Sainsburys for £1.50.
Meanwhile, two litres of milk – which is less than four pints most major supermarkets sell for around £1.60 – will set you back £2.10.
Despite these exorbitant prices, most locals seem happy to spend their cash in exchange for the investment in their small village.
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One local commented: "No one would run at a loss, convenience stores are more expensive. At least they're selling some local good stuff too."
Michael and Xochi are currently renovating a manor house which is set to become a 17-bedroom hotel with a second restaurant.
On top of this, the mega-rich couple own 90 acres of farmland in the village which will provide ingredients.
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