Step 1: Pull aside a box, always outside so the spiders and silverfish and animal droppings (gross, but true) never make it into my house. Since everything gets cleaned before heading into the shop, I'm ok with it being on the porch floor.
Step 2: Separate into piles: For the shop, trash, antiques/collectibles, and to donate (anything useable but not vintage, like lightbulbs and other weird miscellaneous items). Sometimes things make it into our house, like lace curtains or cool pictures we like.
Step 3: Sort the contents of the "keep" pile into their respective bins. All the jewelry goes into one of the many suitcases of jewelry I have, shoes go in a shoe tub to hopefully find its match, and items I absolutely can't wait to clean and photograph make it onto my desk.
Step 4: Antiques and collectibles get separated into "keep to sell" and a pile for an antique dealer Josh knows to sort through.
Not every box is this exciting, but I do usually find a few things that will make it to the shop buried in the piles of randoms. I found an embroidered Art Deco piano shawl in a box of office supplies and an Edwardian dress bundled up with some ugly Christmas decorations!
Out of this other box...
...came a cool Pendleton Round Up program from 1936, a bunch of sewing patterns, lots of old photographs, and some children's garters! Oh, and a lot of trash.
At this point, I haven't washed or processed the majority of the items I am keeping for the shop. They all go into tubs, and while I wish I could leisurely look through them, the main task is to sort through it all first! The thrill of buying out a business sight mostly unseen is digging through these boxes. The woman I bought the shop from had boxes she never even went through! We had to pack and take EVERYTHING in her shop, from old flyers for her shop down to boxes of what turned out to be recycling piles or kids crafts! So, there you have it!