Shopping on the fringe in festival city: Art works and old clothes, fossils, crystals, candles . . . If you're looking for the off-beat and original, you'll find it in Edinburgh

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The Independent Online
BEYOND the fringes of Princes Street lie the stamping grounds of Edinburgh's alternative shoppers. If black and denim, chain and rubberwear, leather and the odd cotton import are what you are after, you will find them in Cockburn Street, which curves steeply up from Waverley station to the Royal Mile.

Farther out - geographically - is Flip Incorporated. Established 14 years ago in Glasgow, the firm now has four branches in Scotland and one in Liverpool. Forty per cent of the vast, ever-changing stock is original American clothing of the Fifties to Seventies. Flip buzzes during the Festival, as Fringe performers scour the bargain basement (nothing over pounds 5) for wacky costumes.

Historic Victoria Street has colourful, inviting shops. Most are small, but Byzantium is a converted church hall. In its latest incarnation it embraces art deco, vintage clothing, imports, prints and antiques.

'Fringies' seeking a present for the folks back home should try Round The World - it is sharper than the average gift shop. At the Rolling Stone Gallery, Barbara Naughton shows her hand-painted stones. Ladybirds and bees are 90p, snoozing cats pounds 3. Pine and Old Lace actually sells pine and old lace.

As well as clothes ancient and modern, the shops of the Grassmarket and Candlemaker Row area specialise in candles, hats, jokes, kites and juggling sets, fossils and crystals.

In Canongate is Somerville of Edinburgh, the unique playing-card shop. Packs come in all shapes and sizes and on numerous themes: historical, sporting, artistic, satirical and Wicked Willie. Film, jazz and book buffs will find cards reflecting their interests. So wide is the range that appropriate first-night presents can always be found ('Break a leg and have a pack of cards').

Down at Stockbridge, St Stephen Street is a must for the shopping addict. Howe Street and North West Circus Place also have highly individual shops. At 25A Dundas Street, the West and Wilde bookshop specialises in gay and feminist books, but has offbeat cards and general stock, too. A couple of minutes' walk away is Henderson Row, where Gladrags and Wild Rose sells vintage clothing and accessories, as well as antiques. The Adam Pottery is a working pottery and gallery for functional (from pounds 4) and exhibition pieces.

Go west and cross the Water of Leith to find, down a lane, Galerie Mirages' wide range of ethnic jewellery and wood. William Street and Stafford Street, near Princes Street's west end, also have a certain villagey charm. The Better Beverage Company is unlike Cockburn Street in that your mother would definitely like it.

Alternative spending opportunities blossom during the Edinburgh Festival. Hip traders spread out their wares beside the National Gallery of Scotland at the foot of the Mound. The Saturday Grassmarket Fair is a lively flea market. In the Assembly Rooms, Dazzle does just that, with jewellery priced from pounds 7 to pounds 500. A giant marquee in West Princes Street Gardens houses a craft fair.

Down in St John's churchyard at the West End, there is good value at the Temptation design and craft fair. Original sweaters, for instance, cost a fraction of London or New York prices. Kim Williamson and Juliet Halliwell are graduates of the Scottish College of Textiles; Kim's Navajo or Glasgow Girls inspired knitted jackets cost pounds 40 to pounds 60, and Juliet's big coats are about pounds 90.

Voodoo Child, 57 Cockburn Street (031 226 7607).

Ground Control, 31/33 Cockburn Street, and Pie in the Sky, 21 Cockburn Street (031 220 1477 for both shops).

R Somerville, 82 Canongate (031 556 5225).

Flip Incorporated, 59-60 South Bridge (031 556 4966).

Byzantium, 9A Victoria Street (031 225 1768).

The Rolling Stone Gallery, 42 Victoria Street (031 226 7707).

Pine and Old Lace, 46 Victoria Street (031 225 3287).

Round the World, 82 West Bow (031 225 7086).

Mr Wood's Fossils, 5 Cowgatehead (031 220 1344).

West and Wilde, 25A Dundas Street (031 556 0079).

Gladrags and Wild Rose, 15-17 Henderson Row (031 557 1916).

The Adam Pottery, 76 Henderson Row (031 557 3978).

Galerie Mirages, 46A Raeburn Place (031 315 2603).

The Better Beverage Company, 43 William Street (031 226 6617).

Dazzle, Assembly Rooms, George Street: 13 August-4 September (Sun-Fri, 11am-midnight; Sat, 10am to midnight).

Grassmarket Fair, The Grassmarket. Saturdays 14, 21, 28 August, 10am- 5pm.

Craft Fair, West Princes Street Gardens: 16-30 August.

Temptation, St John's churchyard: 9 August-4 September (Mon-Sat, 11am-4pm).

(Photograph omitted)

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