The shop, which is dedicated to raising money to assist the hospital, has been in the works for months, but volunteers rushed to get it open during county fair week.
That is because the thrift store is located at the edge of Salem City Park, in the city-owned house on Civic Center Road, the road which leads to the fairgrounds.
That strategy seemed to be paying off, as a steady stream of customers stopped by on opening day, and Etheridge hoped people passing by during the busy fair weekend would keep the good start going.
The thrift store will be open Wednesday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"We have gotten a good supply of merchandise from foundation members and family and friends, but we will need lots of donations, all kinds of household goods, to keep the shop going," said Etheridge.
The foundation is also looking for more volunteers to work at the store. Currently, about 12 volunteers have signed up.
It hopes to recruit 25 to 30 people willing to help out.
The Fulton County Hospital Foundation, which was formed in 2007, has raised thousands of dollars through golf tournaments, a Wall of Fame - which adds the names of contributors to plaques at the hospital entrance - and other fundraisers.
The money is used to help the hospital with equipment and improvements it could not, otherwise, afford. Computers, furniture, carpet cleaning and a recently launched scholarships for seniors interested in medical careers are among foundation contributions.
The foundation believes an ongoing enterprise, like the thrift store, will help provide a steady stream of revenue.
It decided to proceed with the thrift store, despite the hospital's financial problems and uncertain future.
"This community needs a hospital and the hospital needs support more than ever," said foundation member Trena Spears. "People don't realize how important a hospital is, until they need one in an emergency. We hope the hospital can work out its problems and we are still dedicated to helping it."
After months of seeking a suitable location, the foundation asked the city for permission to use the city-owned house in the park, which has not been used for some time.
The foundation will pay the building's utilities, with the right to use the house rent-free for one year.
"I'll be back," promised customer Maguffee, as she left the store with a clothes hamper, lamps, books and other finds.
Volunteers say they are still in the process of getting organized, but already have a big room in the back of the house filled with childrens clothes, shoes and toys, and lots of general merchandise in the living room area.
They are already getting compliments on the shopping space, with its wood floors and lots of windows to let in natural light.
"It's going to be a lot of work, but we are committed to giving it a year to see if the community will support the store," said Etheridge. "We think we can offer some good bargains to people, while raising money to support the hospital.
For information on donating items to, or volunteering at, the Fulton County Hospital Foundation Thrift Store, contact J.B. Etheridge at 870-458-2067 or Trena Spears at 870-371-0848.